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Full text of "William T. G. Morton, M.D. -- Sulphuric ether. 1852 [electronic resource] : Referred to a select committee : Dr. William H. Bissell, of Illinois, chairman : The select committee to whom was referred the memorial of Dr. William T.G. Morton, asking remuneration from Congress for the discovery of the anaesthetic or pain-subduing properties of sulphuric ether"

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Referred to a Select Committee. 

Dr. WxiiiiiAM a. BissELL, of Illinois, Chairman. 

The Select Committee to whom was referred the memorial of Dr. William, 
T. G. Morton, asking remuneration from Congress for the discovery 
of the ancBsthetic or pain-suhduing properties of sulphuric ether, 


That upon the suggestion of the memorialist, that his claim to the 
diacovery was contested by Dr. Charles T. Jackson, of Boston, the chair- 
man addressed to him a letter, notifying him of the proceedings, and of 
the day when the committee would begin the investigation ; advising 
him, that if he desired to do so, he was at liberty to contest Dr. Morton's 
application. The chairman received a statement from Dr. Jackson, in 
reply. Afterwards a memorial from Dr. Jackson was presented to 
the House, and referred to your committee. And on the 20th day of 
Dec. 1851, at a meeting held pursuant to notice, both parties appear- 
ed before your committee : Dr. Morton by his counsel, J. M. Carlisle, 
Esq., and Dr. Jackson by J. L. Hayes, Esq. In his paper Dr. Jackson 
presented objections to the inquiry, combining, in effect, a plea that the 
matter was res judicata, and a plea to the jurisdiction of Congress, 
which were discussed and considered, as preliminary to a general investi- 
gation. The objections are embodied in the following extracts. 

After averring that the discovery was his, and his only, and that he 
alone gave it to the world. Dr. Jackson proceeds as follows : 

"He, the undersigned, therefore, distinctly and unequivocally claims 
to be the sole and original discoverer of the anesthetic and pain-subdu- 
ing properties of sulphuric ether ; and hereby communicates' the fact to 
the Congress of the United States, and declares that his rights have been 
fully admiited by all the scientific societies that have examined into the 
claims of the numerous aspirants to the honor of the discovery, and that, 
m consequence of this result of investigations of all the (Claimant's pre- 
tensions, the National Academy of Sciences of France awarded to the 


undersigned " the Monthyon prize for the greatest medical discovery," 
and the Government of France awarded to him also the Cross of the 
Legion of Honor, and the King of Sweden the gold Medal of Merit. 
He, the undersigned, therefore, regards the question of discovery settled 
in the scientific world, and cannot but express his surprise," &c., &-c. 

And, again, he " begs that he may be put to no further trouble and 
expense in defending his scientific rights to the discovery." 

And, again, he begs "that he may be allowed to pursue his studies and 
labors in peace, and not be compelled to spend his valuable time in 
waiting upon Congress, merely for the purpose of seeing that his rights 
suffer no detriment." 

Your committee being unable to perceive the force of these objections, 
overruled them, and in the discharge of the duty imposed on them by 
the House, proceedfed' with the investigation. A mass of written and 
printed statements was offered by Dr. Jackson, tending to impeach the 
character of Dr. Morton, which the latter requested should be received, 
he being allowed time to produce rebutting evidence, and to adduce evi- 
dence on his part impeaching Dr. Jackson's character for veracity, and 
proving several cases in which he had claimed the inventions* of others 
as his own. This your committee rejected, deeming it wholly irrelevant 
to the subject committed to them 'by the resolution of the House, and 
leading to a long and laborious trial of many immaterial issues. 

Their first inquiry was directed to the question whether a discovery 
had in fact been made, important to mankind, and in its importance and 
value to the American people worthy of national recognition and reward. 

The alleged discovery consists in the total annihilation or prevention 
of pain in the most severe surgical operations, and in obsteric CMses, by 
the inhalation of the vapor of sulphuric ether. It is alleged also that 
the pain, destroying agent is innocent, producing no injurious conse- 
quences to the patient inhaling it. If this be true, and it be indeed a 
discovery, its national importance, its importance to the human race, is 

Intense pain is regarded by mankind, generally, as so serious an evil 
that it would have been strange indeed if efforts had not been early 
made to diminish this species of suffering. The use of the juice of the 
poppy, henbane, mandragora, and other narcotic preparations, to effect 
this object by iheir deadening influence, may be traced back till it dis- 
appears in the darkness of a highly remote antiquity. Intoxicating 
vapors were also employed, by way of inhalation, to produce the same 
effects as drugs of this nature introduced into the stomach. This ap- 
pears from the account given by Herodotus, of the practice of the 
Scythians, several centuries before Christ, of using the vapor of hemp 
seed as a means of drunkenness. The known means of stupefaction 
were very early resorted to, in order to counteract pain produced by ar- 
tificial causes. In executions, under the horrible form of crucifixion, so- 
porific mixtures were administered to alleviate the pangs of the victim. 
The draught of vinegar and gall, or myrrh, offered to the Savior in his 
agony, was the ordinary tribute of human sympathy extorted from the 
bystander by the spectacle of intolerable anguish. 

That some lethean anodyne might be found to assuage the torment of 
surgical operations as they were anciently performed, cauterizing the 

• Magnetic Telegraph, &o. 

cut surfaces, instead of tying the arteries, was not only a favorite no- 
tion but it liatl been in some degree, however imperfect, reduced to prac- 
tice.' Pliny, the naturalist, who perished in the erruption of Vesuvius, 
which entombed the city of Herculaneum, in the year 79, bears distinct 
and decided testimony to this fact. 

" It has a soporific power," says he in his description of the plant 
known as the mandragora or circeius— "It has a soporific power on the 
faculties of those who drink it. The ordinary potion is half a cup. It is 
drunk ag^ainst serpents, and before cuttings and puncturings, lest they 
should be felt." {Bihitur et contra serpentes, et ante sectiones, punction- 
csque, ne sentiahtur.) 

When he comes to speak of the4)lant eruca, called by us the rocket, 
he informs us that its seeds, when drank, infused in wine, by criminals 
about to undergo the lash, produce a certain callousness or induration 
of feeling, {duriiiam quondam contra sensum induere.) 

Pliny also asserts that the stone Memphitis, powdered and applied in a 
liniment with vinegar, will stupefy parts to be cut or cauterized, "for it 
so paralyzes the part that it feels no pain ; nec sentit cruciatum." 

Dioscorides, a Greek physician of Cilicia, in Asia, who was born about 
the time of Pliny's death, and who wrote an extensive work on the ma- 
teria medica, observes, in his chapter on mandragora — 

1. "Some boil down the roots in wine to a third part, and preserve 
the juice thus procured, and give one cyathus of it in sleeplessness and 
severe pains, of whatever part ; also, to cause the insensibility — to pro- 
duce the anesthesia (poiein anaisthesian) of those who are to be cut or 

2. " There is prepared, also, besides the decoction, a wine from the bark 
of the root, three minae being thrown into a cask of sweet wine, and of 
this three cyathi are given to those who are to be cut or cauterized, as afore- 
said ; for being thrown into a deep sleep, they do not perceive pain." 

3. Speaking of another variety of mandragora, called morion, he ob- 
serves, " medical men use it also for those who are to be cut or cauterized." 

Dioscorides also describes the stone Memphitis, mentioned by Pliny, 
and says that when it is powdered and applied to parts to be cut or cau- 
terized, they are rendered, without the slightest danger, wholly insensible 
tp pain. Matthiolus, the commentator on Dioscorides, confirms his state- 
ment of the virtues of mandragora, which is repeated by Dodoneus. 
" Wine in which the roots of mandragora has been steeped," says this 
latter writer, "brings on sleep, and appeases all pains, so that it is given 
to those who are to be cut] sawed, or burned, in any parts of their body, 
that they may not perceive pain." 

The expressions used by Apuleius, of Madaura, who flourished about 
a century after Pliny, are still more remarkable than than those already 
quoted from the older authors. He says, when treating of mandragora, 
" If any one is to have a member mutilated, burned, or sawed, {mutilan- 
dum, comhurendum, vet serrandum) let him drink half an ounce with wine, 
and let him sleep till the member is cut away, without any pain or sensation, 
{et tantum dormiet, quousque abscindatur membrum aliquo sine dolore et 

It was not in Europe and in Western Asia alone, that these early ef- 
forts to discover some letheon were, and attended with partial sue- 


cess. On the opposite side of the continent, the Chinese, who have an- 
ticipated the Europeans in so many important inventions, as in gunpow- 
der, the mariner's compass, printing, lilhogrnphy, paper money, and the 
use of coal, seem to have been quite as far in advance of the occidental 
world, in medical science. They understood, ages before they were in- 
troduced into Christendom, the use of substances containing iodine for 
the cure of the goitre, and employed spurred rye, ergot, to shorten dan- 
gerously prolonged labor in difficult accouchments. Among the thera- 
peutic methods confirmed by the experience of thousands of years, the 
records of which they have preserved with religious veneration, the em- 
ployment of an anesthetic agent to paralyze the nervous sensibility before 
performing surgical operations, is distinctly set forth. Among a consid- 
erable number of Chinese works on the pharmacopaeia, medicine, and 
surgery, in the National Library at Paris, is one entitled Kou-kin-i-tong, 
or general collection of ancient and modern medicine, in fifty volumes 
qiiarto. Several hundred biographical notices of the most distinguished 
physicians in China are prefixed to this work. The following curious 
passages occur in the sketch of the biography of Hoa-tho, who flourish- 
ed under the dynasty of Wei, between the years 220 and 230 of our era. 
" When he determined that it was necessary to employ acupuncture, he 
applied it in two or three places ; and so with the moxa, if that was in- 
dicated by the nature of the affection to be treated. But if the disease 
resided in parts upon which the needle, the moxa, or liquid medicaments 
could not operate, for example, in the bones, or the marrow of the bones, 
in the stomach, or the intestines, he gave the patient a preparation of 
hemp, (in the Chinese language mayo,) and after a few moments, he be- 
came as insensensible as if he had been drunk or dead. Then, as the 
case required, he performed operations, incisions, or amputations, and 
removed the cause of the malady, then he brought together and secured 
the tissues, and applied liniments. After a certain number of days, the 
patient recovered, loithout having experienced during the operation the 
slightest pain. Hoa-tho has published, under the title of Nei-tchao-thou, 
anatomical plates, which exhibit the interior of the human body, which 
have come down to our times, and enjoy a great reputation." 

It will be noticed that the agent employed by Hoa-tho, which he calls 
ma-yo, hemp medicine, and which is called in the annals of the later 
Hans, mafo-san, or hemp essence powder, is the extract of the same 
plant mentioned by Herodotus, twenty-three centuries ago, the cannabis 
Indica, the haschisch of the Arabs, which is now extensively cultivated in 
Hindostan, for the purpose of manufacturing the substance called Bhang, 
to produce a peculiar species of intoxication, at first seductive and deli- 
cious, but followed in its habitual use by terrible efiects upon the con- 

* Almost a thousand years after the date of the unmistakable phrases 
quoted from Apuleius, according to the testimony of William of Tyre, 
and other chroniclers of the wars for the rescue of the holy sepulchre, 
and the fascinating narrative of Marco Polo, a state of anaesthesia was 
induced for very diflferent purposes. It became an instrument in the 
hands of bold and crafty imposters to perpetrate and extend the most ter- 
rible fanaticism that the world has ever seen. 

The employment of ansesthetic agents in surgical operations, was not 
forgotten or abandoned during the period when they were pressed into 


the appalling service just described. In the thirteenth century, anacsthe- 
sia was produced by inhalation of an anodyne vapor, in a mode oddly 
forestalling the practices of the present day, which is thus described in 
the (bllowing passage of the surgical treatise of Theodoric, who died in 
1298. It is the receipt for the " spongia somnifera," as it is called in 
the rubric : 

" The preparation of a scent for performing surgical operations, ac- 
cording to Master Hugo. It is made thus : Take of opium and the 
juice oT unripe mulberry, of hyoscyamus, of t-he juice of the hemlock, of 
the juice of the leaves of the mandragora, of the juice of the woody ivy, 
of the juice of the forest mulberry, of the seeds of lettuce, of the seed of 
the burdock, which has large and round apples, and of the water hemlock, 
each one ounce; mix the whole of these together in a brazen vessel, and 
then in it place a new sponge, and let the whole boil, and as long as the 
sun on the dog days, till it (the sponge) consumes it all, and let it be 
boiled away in it. As often as there is need of it, place this same 
sponge into warm water- for one hour, and let it be applied to the nos- 
trils till he who is to be operated on, {qui incidendus est,) has fallen 
asleep ; and in this state let the operation be performed, {et sic fiat 
chirurgia.) When this is finished, in order to rouse him, place another 
dipped in vinegar, frequently to his nose, or let the juice of the roots of 
fenigreek be squirted into his nostrils. Presently he awakens." 

A French physician, residing in the neighborhood of Toulouse, M. 
Dauriol, asserts that, in the year 1832, he employed a method analogous 
to that of Theodoric, and specifies five cases in which he succeeded in 
performing painless operations. 

September 23, 1828, M. Girardin read a letter before the Academy of 
Medicine, addressed to his Majesty Charles X, by Mr. Hickman, a sur- 
geon of London, in which this surgeon announces a means of perform- 
ing the most delicate and most dangerous operations, without pro- 
ducing pain in the individuals submitted to them. This proceeding 
consists in suspending insensibility by the methodical introduction of 
certain gases into the lungs. Mr. Hickman had tested his proceedings 
by repeated experiments on animals. 

Guy de Ohauliac and Brunus, are the only authors on medicine and 
surgery, besides Theodoric, who, during this period, allude to prophy- 
lactic agents to avert pain. It may be presumed, therefore, that their 
employment was not generally very successful. Probably bad effects, 
such as congestion and asphyxia, and sometimes ending in death, followed 
their unskillful empiricism. J. Cannappe, the physician of Francis I, in 
his work printed at Lyons in 1532, Le Guidon pour les Barbiers et les 
Chirurgiens, the Surgeon's and Barber's Guide, describes the method of 
Theodoric and his followers, as already given above, and adds: "Les 
autres donnent opium a borie, et fontmal, specialement s'il est jeune ; et 
le aperQoivent, car ce est avec une grande bataille de vertu animale et 
naturelle. J'ai oui quilz encourent manie, et par consequent la mort." 

Thus far had the superinduction of anaasthesia, as a preventive of pain, 
pade its way into surgical practice in the middle ages ; and even then 
it must have been most beneficial in its influence in diminishing the 
mass of human suff'ering. Down to the time when Ambrose Par6, in 
the sixteenth century, suggested the application of slender ligaturfes to 


bleeding arteries, to arrest the hemorrhage of surgical wounds, no other 
nic.ios were employed to stem the (low of blood after capital operations, 
tli.ui by scorching over the raw surface with a red hot iron, or plunging 
it into boiling pitch, or applying other strong potential cauteries. "The • 
horrors of the patient, and his ungovernable cries, the hurry of the oper- 
ators and assistan1,s, the sparkling of 'the (heated) irons, and the hissing 
of the blood against them, must have made terrible scenes," says' Mr. 
John Bell ; "and surgery must, in those days, have been a horrible trade." 

Haller, Deneux, and Blandin, report cases of operations performed 
upon patients, under the influence of alcoholic intoxication, in obstetric 
and other cases, without pain ; and Richerand has suggested that this 
expedient should be employed in the management of dislocations difii- 
cult to be reduced. For obvious reasons it has not been adopted by the 
profession. Mesmerism, also, has been the subject of grave discussions, 
and of some extraordinary statements, in this connexion ; but, whatever 
may be thought of the individual cases certified by witnesses, it is not 
too much to say that it is not likely ever to become a remedy of general 
„ application. 

Opium has in all ages been employed to assuage pain. Van Helmont 
calls it the specific gift of the Creator. Guy de Chauliac used it, and 
many surgeons have followed his example in their operations. Sassard, 
surgeon of the hospital de la Charite, strongly recommended this prac- 
tice in the last century. But the irregular action of opium, the excita- 
bility which it sometimes occasions, its bad effects upon the digestive 
organs and the nervous system, and the length of time during which its 
influence remains, are decisive objections to this agent. Dr. Esdaille has 
recently experimented upon this subject at Calcutta, but the results are 
altogether unfavorable. 

Van Frieten, Juvet, and Teden, have advised that mechanical com- 
pression should be employed to prevent pain in amputations, but this 
expedient proved but partially effectual, and has serious inconveniences 
which require it to be rejected without question. 

The application of ice also will diminish pain under these circum- 
stances. Baron Larry, after the battle of Eylau, found a remarkable 
insensibility in the wounded who suffered amputations, owing to the in- 
tense cold. The injury to the general health of the patient is not, how- 
ever, compensated by the imperfect and uncertain success of this 

After the -great improvement brought about by the introduction of 
ligatures, the inducement to seek for a safe and effectual nepenthe, 
though still great, was vastly less than before. No practical advance 
deserving to be mentioned was made in this direction until the great 
discovery of the available effects of sulphuric ether. 

This substance had been known since the thirteenth century. Its for- 
mation was accurately described by Valerius Cordus in the sixteenth 
century. Frobenius first designated it ether, and published an account 
of it in the philosophical transactions in 1730. 

Its use as a medical agent, first alluded to by Valerius Cordus, and 
mentioned by Hoff"man, Cullen, Alston, Lewis, and Monroe, and other 
writers of the last century, has long been familiarly known. The his- 
tory of its use by inhalation commenced with the pamphlet published 
in 1795, by Richard Pearson; and several communications from the 
same Dr. Pearson are to be found in the work of Dr. Beddoes on Facti- 

tious Airs published at Bristol, England, in 1796. The same work con- 
tains a letter from one of Dr. Thornton's patients, giving an account ol 
his use of ether, by Dr. Thornton's advice, in a case oi pectoral catarrh. 
He says "it gave almost immediate relief both to the oppression and 
pain ib the chest." On the second trial he inhaled two spoonsful), with 
immediate relief as before, and I very soon after /e// asleep." In 1815, 
Nysten, in the Dictionary of Medical Sciences, speaks of the inhalation 
of ether as familiarly known for mitigating pains in colic. For the last 
fifty years most therapeutic authors mention its use by inhalation in 
asthma, &c., as Duncan, Murray, Brande, ChriStison, Pereira, Thompson, 
Barbier, Wendt, Vogt, Sundelin, &c. Effects analogous to intoxication, 
when ether is inhaled, are stated by American authors, as Godman, 
(1822,) Mitchel, (1832,) Professor Samuel "Jackson, (1833,) Wood & 
Bache, (1834,) Miller, (1846, and early in that year.) 

Dr.' John C. Warren, in his work on Etherization, says : " The general 
properties of ether have been known for more than a century, and the 
effect of its inhalation, in producing exhiliration and insensibility, has 
been understood for many years, not only by the scientific, but by young 
men in colleges and schools, and in the shop of the apothecary, who 
have frequently employed it for these purposes." 

About a half a century since. Sir Humphrey Davy, who had acted as 
an assistant to Dr. Beddoes, in the commencement of his career, sug- 
gested the possibility that a pain-subduing gas might be inhaled, as fol- 
lows : " As nitrous oxide, in its extensive operation, appears capable of 
destroying physical pain, it may probably be used with advantage dur- 
ing surgical operations in Which no great effusion of blood takes place." 
Researches on Nitrous Oxide, p. 556. Upon this hint, Dr. Horace Wells, 
of Hartford, Connecticut, in the autumn of the year 1844, experimented 
with nitrous oxide gas, in the extraction of teeth ; but this gas being 
found on trial to be unavailable for the desired purposes, he abandoned 
his experiments in December, 1844, and tried none afterwards. 

Late in the autumn of 1844, Dr. E. E. Marcy, of Hartford, Conn., as 
appears from his own p,fiidavit and that of F. C. Goodrich, of Hartford, 
suggested to Dr. Wells to substitute sulphuric ether for nitrous oxide, 
and informed him of its known effects, and how to make it. Marcy 
"administered the vapor of rectified sulphuric ether in my [his] office to 
a young man ; * * * and after he had been rendered insensible to 
pain, cut from his head an encysted tumor of about the size of an Eng- 
lish walnut. The operation was entirely unattended with pain." Dr. 
Marcy concluded that nitrous oxide was more safe, equally efficacious, 
and more easily administered than ether, and therefore to be preferred, 
and retained that opinion to December, 1849. 

Dr. E. R. Smilie, of Boston, in October, 1846, asserted that he had 
employed successfully an etherial tincture of opium to subdue pain under 
the knife. He states that he applied this tincture by inhalation in the 
spring of 1844 ; that he opened a serious abscess on the neck of the late 
Mr. John Johnson, while he was rendered unconscious of pain from the 
operation by this tincture. 

The Paris Medical Gazette, of March, 1846, gives an account of re- 
markable experiments performed by M. Duces, by ether, on animals, ex- 
hibiting most of the phenomena since witnessed in the human body. 
Sir Benjamin Brodie tried it on Guinea pigs, whom it put to sleeps and 
killed. He doubted its safety. 


Notwithstanding this long series of efforts to procure a, true nepenthe, 
the object still seemed unattainable to the wisest and boldest members 
of the surgical profession. Velpeau, than whom no higher authority 
can be quoted, said, in 1839, "to avoid pain in surgical operations is a 
chi mera which it is not allowable to pursue at the present day. The 
cutting instrument, and pain, in operative medicine, are two words 
which never present themselves singly to the mind of the patient, and 
of which we must necessarily admit the association." Orfila, in his 
Toxicology, declares absolute insensibility to pain under surgical opera- 
tions by etherization, to be a discovery entirely new. Dr. J. C. Warren 
says, " The discovery of a mode of preventing pain in surgical operations 
has been an object of strong desire among surgeons from an early period. 
In my surg?cal lectures I have almost annually alluded to it, and stated 
the means which I have usually adopted for the attainment of the ob- 
ject. I have also freely declared that, notwithstanding the use of very 
large doses of narcotic substances, this desideratum had never been saty 
isfactorily obtained. The successful use of any article of the materia 
medica for this purpose, would therefore be hailed by me as an allevia- 
tion of human suffering." Finally, Sir Benjamin Brodie, in a discourse at 
St. George's Hospital, at so late a date as October 1, 1846, alluding to 
mesmerism, said, " There is no greater desideratum, either in medicine , 
or surgery, than to have the means of allaying or preventing bodily 
pain, not only in surgical operations, but in other cases also, but there 
is good reason to apprehend that it has not been reserved for the revival 
of animal magnetism under a new name, to accomplish that for which 
all physicians and surgeons have been looking in vain, from the days of 
Hippocrates down to the present time." Testimonials like these might 
be multiplied indefinitely, but the names already quoted are of those uni- 
versally recognized on both continents as the most illustrious cultivators 
of medical science! The desideratum of which Brodie despaired on the 
1st of October, 1846, had been found, and its efficacy demonstrated 
within the twenty-four hours preceding the delivery of his lecture. And 
in a fetv days after, the tidings were borne with the full speed of steam 
across thd> Atlantic, and dispersed over Europe and Asia, which for two 
thousand years had been looking for it in vain. 

This sketch of the progress of human knowledge as to the inhalation 
of sulphuric ether and its effects, and as to attempts to superinduce 
anaesthesia by various agents in ancient and modern times, though by 
no means scientifically complete, is sufficiently so for the purpose 
for which your committee have introduced it, to show what was and 
what was not known upon the subject previously to the investigations 
and experiments of this memorialist. 

Your committee are satisfied, upon a full and careful examination of 
all the evidence before them, that until the 30th of September, 1846, it 
was not known that sulphuric ether might safely be inhaled in sufficient 
quantity to produce total insensibility to pain under the severest surgi- 
cal operations. The safety of this agent, its certainty, its efficiency, are 
now established beyond question, and acknowledged by the whole scien- 
tific world. This great discovery, by far the noblest contribution which 
medical science has made 1o humanity within the present century, and 
with which, looking through all ages, no other except that of .Tenner can 
take rank, sprung to light in the year 1846, in the State of Massachu- 
M> rts ; and the memorialist, Dr. Wm. T. G. Morton, claims it as his own. 


Certain it is, he was the first who exhibited it to the world, and the 
only one who publicly used or claimed it, until after its reality and efh- 
cacv had been fully established. The honor of the discovery, therefore, 
must be awarded to him, unless some one show, by satisfactory evidence 
an older and a better title. From the 30th of September, 1840, until 
the 2d day of January, 1847, during which time this discovery passed 
successfully, the- experimentum crucis, Dr. Morton was in full, and sole, 
and undisputed possession. For a time, he held the operative agent as 
a secret, but at last disclosed it, by letter, to the faculty of the Medical 
Hospital at Boston, with a view to its trial, in what is called in surgery 
a capital case. It was not until some time after this trial had been made, 
and proved successful, that a claim was publicly set up by any one to 
the honor or a share in the honor of the discovery. 

The account given by Dr. Morton of the circumstances which direct- 
ed his mind to the investigation, is simple and natural, and in every step 
corroborated by some marked circumstnnce, proved by the testimony of 
one or more disinterested witnesses. A narrative such as his, so sup- 
ported, goes far to sustain the title which possession, undisputed for a 
time, would have given him. It was prepared by him, and presented to 
the Academy of Arts and Sciences at Paris, by M. Arago, in July, 1847. 
Notwithstanding its length, we have thought proper to insert it entire. 


"In the summer of 1844, being in the practice of dentistry,.. and desir- 
ous to improve myself in chemical and medical knowledge, I studied in 
the office of Dr. Charles T. Jackson, of Boston, and, in order to employ 
my time to the utmost advantage, I resided in his family. One day, in 
casual conversation upon my profession of dentistry, I spoke of the ope- 
ration of destroying the nerve of a tooth, and remarked that there was 
always doubt whether the tooth could be restored to usefulness, inas- 
much as the arsenic produced an irritation, and left a soreness often per- 
manent. Dr. Jackson said, in a humorous manner, that I must try some 
of his tooth-ache drops, and proceeded to tell me that, at a time when he 
practised medicine, he occasionally extracted teeth for particular patients, 
and that in one instance a patient who could not summon courage for 
the operation asked him to apply something to alleviate the pain. He 
applied ether, atul with success, for a few days afterwards a friend of 
this patient called to obtain some of the 'tooth-ache drops,' as he called 
them; but Dr. Jackson, not wishing to be troubled with dental business, 
told him he had none. Dr. Jackson then added, that as this ether might 
be applied with advantage to sensitive teeth, he would send me some. 
The conversation then turned upon the effect of ether upon the system, 
and he told me how the students at Cambridge used to inhale sulphuric 
ether from their handkerchiefs, and that it intoxicated them, making 
them reel and stagger. He gave no further intimation of the effect of 
ether, or of the manner of applying it. I may add that Dr. Jackson has 
confirmed my account of this conversation in his own statement to Dr 

"In a few days after this conversation. Dr. .Jackson sent me a bottle of 
chloric ether, highly rectified, as he had offered. At the same time he 
sent a bottle to two other dentists of high respectability in Boston. J 
made an experiment with this ether in destroying the sensibility of a 


valuable tooth of a patient, Miss , by direct application, telling 

her that the operation would be slow. I was obliged to apply it several 
tinaes, but in tne end the sensibility seemed to be removed, and the tooth 
is now, to my knowledge, in a useful condition. 

" About this time the wife and aunt of Dr. Jackson were under my 
treatment for dental purposes, and it was necessary to extract teeth in 
each case, the operation being painl'ul and the ladies showing an unusual 
degree of sensitiveness. The last named lady, in particular, before the 
extracting of each tooth, remained several hours in the operating chair, 
unable to summon courage to endure the operation, and begging to be 
mesmerized, or that I would give her something to make her insensible. 
Dr. Jackson was present and made efforts to encourage the lady, but 
did not suggest any mode of producing insensibility. His sugaiestions 
had not gone beyond the direct application of ether, in the same manner 
that laudanum and other nai'colics have always been applied to sensitive 

"The successful application I had made of the ether in destroying the 
sensibility of a tooth, together with what Dr. Jackson told me of its effects 
when inhaled by the students at college, awakened my attention, and hav- 
ing free access to Dr. Jackson's books, I began to read on the subject of its 
effects upon the animal system. I became satisfied that there was nothing 
new or particularly dangerous in the inhaling of ether, that it had long 
been the toy of professors and students, known as a powerful anti-spas- 
modic, anodyne, and narcotic, capable of intoxicating and stupefying, 
when taken in sufficient quantity. I found that even the apparatus for 
inhaling it was described in some treatises, but in most cases it was de- 
scribed as inhaled from a saturated sponge or handkerchief. Having 
some of the ether left which Dr. Jackson had sent me, I inhaled it from 
a handkerchief, but there was not enough to produce a greater effect 
than exhilaration followed by headache. 

"While investigating this subject I was taken quite ill, and it 
being the middle of summer, I was advised by my physician to go into 
the country. I took with me from Dr. Jackson's library, and obtained 
in other ways, several books treating on this and other subjects. 1 spent 
two months at the residence of my father-in-law, in Connecticut. While 
there I procured ether from the druggist's, and made experiments upon 
birds and other animals, endeavoring to get them under the effect of in- 
halation from it. These experiments produced no satisfactory result, 
and they being known among my friends, I was mortified and vexed, 
and bottled up the subjects, where they remain to this day. 

"In the autumn I returned to Boston, and finding that my business, 
owing to its interi uption, required my constant attention, I was not able 
to pursue the investigation at that time. 

"In the course of the winter (1844-5) Dr. Horace Wells, of Hartford, 
Conn.,' a dentist, and formerly my partner, came to Boston, and desired 
me to aid him in procuring an opportunity to administer the nitrous ox- 
ide gas, which he said he believed would destroy or greatly alleviate 
pain under surgical operations. I readily consented, and introduced him 
to Dr. George Hay ward, an eminent surgeon, who oflered to permit the ex- 
periment, but as the earliest operation was not to be performed under two 
or three days, we did not wait for it, but went to Dr. Warren, whom we 
found engaged with his class. He told us that his students were prepa- 


ring to inhale it that evening; for sport, and offered to announce the pro- 
posal to them, and ask them to meet us at the college. In the evening 
Dr. Wells and myself went to the hall, and I took my instruments. Dr. 
Wells administered the gas, and extracted a tooth, but the patient scream- 
ed from pain, and the spectators laughed and hissed. The meeting broke 
up, and we were looked upon as having made ourselves very ridiculous. 
I saw nothing more of Dr. Wells, but he left my instruments at my of- 
fice very early the next morning, and went directly home. In July, being 
again in Connecticut, I called on Dr. Wells, and we spent some time in 
adjusting our former partnership accounts. He had then given up den- 
tistry, and was engaged in conducting an exhibition of birds, which he 
said insured him better health. I went with him to the office of Dr. Riggs, 
where I spoke of the gas, and asked them to give some to me ; but Dr. 
Wells gave me to understand that he had abandoned the experiment, 
thinking it could have no practical value. 

"In the autumn of 1845, I returned to my business, which had now 
become almost exclusively mechanical dentistry, or plate work, requi- 
ring me often to extract a great number of teeth at a time. Many of 
my patients suffered extremely, and some were obliged, as is the expe- 
rience of every dentist, to postpone or abandon the supplying full sets 
of teeth. I had, therefore, everything to call my attention to the destroy- 
ing or mitigating of pain under these operations, and great motive to 
induce me to follow up the subject. Finding that when closed up in a 
hollow tooth, and sealed with wax, ether would gradually destroy the 
sensibility of the part, I reasoned that perhaps when inhaled it might 
destroy or greatly alleviate sensibility to pain generally. 

"In the spring of 1846, Thomas R. Spear came to study with me, and 
hearing me converse upon the subject, he said he had inhaled ether at 
the Lexington Academy, where he was educated, and described to me 
its effects. This increased my interest in the subject, and I determined 
as soon as the pressure of the spring business was over, to devote my- 
self to it. In the mean time I tried an experiment upon a water spaniel 
inserting his head in a jar having sulphuric ether at the bottom. This 
was done in the presence of two persons at myiiouse in West Needham 
where I reside during the summer months. After breathing the vapor 
for some time, the dog completely wilted down in my hands. I then re- 
moved the jar. In about three minutes he aroused, yelled loudly, and 
sprung some ten feet into a pond of water. ' 

" Immediately after this experiment, I waited on Dr. Granville G. Hay- 
den, a young dentist, told him my purpose, and made an agreement with 
him to come to my office and rake charge of my business, that I might 
devote myself more exclusively to this subject. The agreement was 
drawn by R. H. Dana, Jr. Esq., to whose letter in the appendix I take 
the liberty to refer the Academy in this connexion. As soon as Dr. 
Hayden became acquainted with my business, I began to devote myself 
to my experiments. I inhaled some chloric ether and morphine the 
effect of which was drowsiness followed by lassitude and headache. 

" Early in August I asked Dr. Hayden to procure me a four-ounce n'hial 
of sulphuric ether from Mr. Burnett; a drqggist much relied upon bv 
chemists. He did so, and I tried to induce him to take it. As he de- 
clined, I took half of it into the country to try again upon my do^ 
Just as I had got it ready, the dog sprang and threw over the jar I feJt 


vexed, and resolved to take it myself, and did so, the next day, at my 
office. I inhaled from my handkerchief all the ether that was left, but 
was not completely lost, yet thought myself so far insensible that 1 be- 
lieved that a tooth could have been drawn with but litt le pain or consci- 
ousness, I was unwilling to send to Burnett's again for the same arti- 
cle, he being a near neighbor, and his young men well acquainted with 
mine, lest the knowledge of my experiments should get abroad. I ac- 
cordingly sent a student, William P. Leavitt, to druggists in a different 
part of the city. Brewers, Stevens and Co., a firm in excellent standing, 
with directions to get sulphuric ether. After some persuasion I induced 
Spear, who had taken it at school, to inhale it. He did so, and became 
so far insensible as to drop the handkerchief, and seemed very drowsy 
and torpid. As this passed off he became excited and furious, so that 
he had to be held down in the chair ; but this subsided, and on coming 
to he expressed himself delighted with his sensations. Leavitt then 
took it, with much the same effect. 1 was much discouraged by these 
attempts. The effects produced were not such as I sought for, nor were 
the young men affected in the same manner that I had been, and as I 
o'bserved the dog to be. They M^ere much more excited and less insen- 
si^jle. Yet I cannot help remarking, in this connexion, that had this sul- 
phuric ether been pure and highly rectified, I should have demonstrated, 
its effects then, instead of at the subsequent period in September. This 
ether has since been analyzed, as appears by the affidavits in the ap- 
pendix, and found to contain a large portion of alcohol, sulphur acids, 
and other impurities. 

" This experiment was early in August ; and it being hot weather, and 
I being somewhat out of health, I w^ent into the country, and abandoned 
the experiments until the middle of September. With the autumn and 
the restoration of health,' my ambition led me to resume my experi- 
ments; and I mentioned to Di'. Hayden that I feared there was so much 
difference in the qualities of ether, that in so delicate a matter there 
would be great difficulty in bringing about any generally useful and re- 
liable results. 

" Thinking that a surer effect might be produced by inhaling the ether 
through some apparatus, I called repeatedly on Mr. Wightman, a phi- 
losophical instrument-maker, for the purpose of procuring or contriving 
an apparatus. While examining his bags for inhaling nitrous oxide gas, 
the thought struck me that I could put the ether into one of these, and 
by making an opening to be closed by a valve, for the admission of at- 
mospheric air, could convert it into an inhaling apparatus. Upon sec- 
ond thought I had an impression that ether would dissolve India rubber, 
and put the question to Mr. Wightman. He thought it would. I then 
put the same question as to oil silk. He said he did not know, but ad- 
vised me to consult a chemist, and named Dr. Jackson. I took from 
Mr. Wightman a glass tunnel, purchased an India rubber bag on my 
way, and returned to my office. I then sent Leavitt to Dr. Gay, a che- 
mist,' to ask the simple question whether ether would dissolve India rub- 
ber.' He returned, saying that Dr. Gay was not in. In the meantime I 
became satisfied that the bottle and glass I had were not large enough 
for my purposes, and not wishing to go to unnecessary expense, I said 
to Dr. Hayden that I would borrow a gas-bag from Dr. Jackson's labor- 
atory. He then suggested to me to ascertain from Dr. Jackson some- 


thing as to the different qualities and preparations of elher, with which 
he said chemists were always familiar. I approved of the suggestion, 
but feared D,r. Jackson might guess what I was experimenting upon, 
and forestall me. I went to Dr. Jackson's, therefore, to procure a gas- 
bag, also with the intention of ascertaining something more accurately 
as ''to the different preparations of ether, if I should find I could do so 
without setting him upon the same track of experiment with myself. 
I am aware that by this admission I may show myself not to have been 
possessed by the most disinterested spirit of philosophic enthusiasm, 
clear of all regard for personal rights or benefits; but it is enough for 
me to say that I felt I had made sacrifices and run risks for this object, 
that I believed myself to be close upon it, yet where another, with better 
opportunities for experimenting, availing himself of my hints and labors, 
might take the prize from my grasp. 

"I asked Dr. Jackson for his gas-bag. He told me it was in his house. 
I went for it, and returned through the laboratory. He said, in a laugh- 
ing manner, ' Well, Doctor, you seem to be all equipped, minus the gas.' 
I replied, in the same manner, that perhaps there would be no need of 
having any gas, if the person who took it could only be made to believe 
there was gas in it, and alluded to the story of the man who died from 
being made to believe that he was bleeding to' death, there being in fact 
nothing but water trickled upon his leg ; but I had no intention what- 
ever of trying such a trick. He smiled and said that was a good story, 
but added, in a graver manner, that I had better not attempt such an ex- 
periment, lest I should be set down as a greater humbug than Wells 
was with his nitrous oxide gas. Seeing that here was an opportunity 
to open the subject, I said, in as careless a manner as I could assume, 
why cannot I give the ether gas? He said that I could do so, and spoke 
again of the students taking it at Cambridge. He said the patient 
would be dull and stupefied, that I could do what I pleased with him^ 
that he would not be able to help himself. Finding the subject open, 
I made the inquiries I wished as to the different kinds and preparations of 
ether. He told me something about the preparations, and thinking that 
if he had any it would be of the purest kind, I asked him to let me see 
his. He did so, but remarked that it had been standing for some time, 
and told me that I could get some highly rectified at Burnett's. As I 
was passing out. Dr. Jackson followed me to the door, and told me that 
he could recommend something better than the gas-bag to administef 
the ether with, and gave me a flask with a glass tube inserted in it. 

"I procured the ether from Burnett's, and taking the tube and flask, shut 
myself up in my room, seated in the operating chair, and commenced in- 
haling. I found the ether so strong that it partially suffocated me, but 
produced a decided effect. I then saturated my handkerchief and in- 
haled it from that. I looked at my watch and soon lost consciousness. 
As I recovered, I felt a numbness in my limbs, with a sensation like 
nightmare, and would have given the world for some one to come and 
arouse me. I thought for a moment I should die in that state, and that 
the world would only pity or ridicule my folly. At length I felt a slight 
tingling of the blood in the end of my third finger, and made an effort to 
touch it with my thumb, but without success. At a second effort, T 
touched it, but there seemed to be no sensation. I gradually raised my 
arm and pinched my thigh, but I could see that sensation was imperfect. 


I attempted to rise from my chair, but fell back. Gradually I regained 
power over my limbs and full consciousness. I immediately looked at 
my \A^atch, and found that I had been insensible between seven and eight 

"Delighted with the success of this experiment, I immediately an- 
nounced the result to the persons employed in my establishment, and 
waited impatiently for some one upon whom I could make a fuller trial. 
Toward evening, a man, residing in Boston, whose certificate is in the 
appendix, came in, suflering great pain, aod wishing to have a tooth ex- 
tracted. He was al'raid of the operation, and asked if he coiild be mes- 
merized. I told him I had something better, and saturating my hand- 
kerchief, gave it to him to inhale. He became unconcious almost im- 
mediately. It was dark, and Dr. Hayden held the lamp, while I ex- 
tracted a firmly rooted bicuspid tooth. There was not much alteration 
in the pulse, and no relaxation of the muscles. He recovered in a min- 
ute, and knew nothing of what had been done to him. He remained 
for some time talking about the experiment, and I took from him a cer- 
tificate. This was on the 30th of September, 1840. This I consider 
to be the first demonstation of this new fact in science. I have heard 
of no one who can prove an earlier demonstration. If any one can do 
so, I yield to him the point of priority in time. 

"I will make a single remark upon the subject of my interview with 
Dr. Jackson. It is not necessary to go into the question of the origin of 
all ideas. I am ready to acknowledge my indebtedness to men and to 
books for all my information upon this subject. I have got here a little 
and there a little. I learned from Dr. Jackson, in 1844, the effect of 
ether direc ly applied to a sensitive tooth, and proved, by experiment, that 
it would gradually render the nerve insensible. I learned from Dr. Jack- 
son, also, in 1844, the effect of ether when^ inhaled by the students at 
college, which \vas corroborated by Spear's account, and by what I read. 
I knew of Dr. Wells's attempt to apply nitrous oxide gas for destroying 
pain under surgical operations. I had great motives to destroy or al- 
leviate pain under my operations, and endeavored to produce such a re- 
sult by means of inhaling ether, inferring that if it would render a 
nerve insensible, directly applied, it might, when inhaled, destroy or 
greatly alleviate sensibility to pain generalI3^ Had the ether that I 
tried on the 5th August been pure, I should have made the demonstra- 
tion then, r further acknowledge that I was subsequently indebted to 
Dr. Jackson for valuable information as to the kinds and preparations of 
ether, and for the recommendation of the highly rectified from Burnett's 
as the most safe and efficient. But my obligation to him hath this ex- 
tent, no-further. All that he communicated to me I could have got from 
other well-informed chemists, or from some books. He did not put me 
upon the experiments; and when he recommended the highly rectified sul- 
phuric ether, ^Ae effect he anticipaled was only that stupefaction tchich teas 
not unknown, and he did not intimate in any degi-ee a suspicion of that 
insensibility to pain which was demonstrated, and astonished the scientific 

"As soon as the man whose tooth I extracted left my office, I consulted 
Dr. Hayden as to the best mode of bringing out the discovery. We 
agreed it was best to announce it to the surgeons at the hospital ; but 
as some time would elapse before an operation, I thought it best to pro- 


cure some assurance which would induce my patients to take it. 
therefore called upon the man who had taken it, and found him perfectly 
well. Thence I went to Dr. Jackson, told him what L had done, and 
asked him to give me a certificate that it was harmless in its eflects. 
This he positively refused to do. I then told him I should go to the prin- 
cipal surgeons and have the question thoroughly tried. / then called on 
Dr. Warren, who promised me an early opporlanilij to try the experiment, 
and soon after I received the inmtaiion inserted in the appendix. 

"In the mean time, I made several additional experiments in my office, 
with various success. I administered it to a boy, but it produced no 
other effect than sickness, with vomiting, and the boy was taken home 
in a coach, and pronounced by a physician to be poisoned. His friends 
were excited, and threatened proceedings against me. A notice of my 
successful experiment having, without my knowledge, got into the pa- 
pers, several persons called, wishing to have it administered. I gave it 
to a lady, but it produced no other effect than drowsiness, and when 
breathed through the apparatus named by Dr. Jackson, it produced suf- 
focation. I was obliged to abandon this mode, and obtaining from Mr. 
Wightman a conical glass tube, I inserted a saturated sponge in the 
larger end, and she breathed through that. In this way she seemed to 
be in an unnatural state, but continued talking, and refused to have the 
tooth extracted. I made her some trifling offer, to which she assented, 
and I drew the tooth, without any indication of pain on her part, not a 
muscle moving. Her pulse was at 90, her face much flushed, and after 
coming to, she remained a long time excessively drowsy. From this ex- 
periment, I became satisfied of what is now well proved, that conscious- 
ness will sometimes remain after insensibility to pain is removed. 

"I afterwards gave it to a Miss L., a lady of about twenty-five. The 
effect upon her was rather alarming. She sprang up from the chair, 
leaped into the air, screamed, and was held down with difficulty. When 
she came to, she was unconscious of what had passed, but was willing 
to have it administered again, which I did with perfect success, extract- 
ing two molar teeth. After this, I tried several other experiments, some 
with more and some with less success, giving my principal attention to 
the perfecting of my modes of admistering it. . 

" When the time drew near for the experiment at the hospital, I be- 
came exceedingly anxious, and gave all my time, day and night, hardly 
sleeping or eating, to the contriving of apparatus, and general investi- 
gation of the subject. 

"I called on Dr. Gould, a physician who has paid much attention to 
chemistry, and told him my anxieties and difficulties. He sympathized 
with me, gave me his attention, and we sat up nearly all night making 
sketches of apparatus ; he first suggesting to me an antidote in case 
of unfavorable efl\3cts, and the valvular system, instead of the one I 
then used. The operation was to be at 10 o'clock. I rose at daybreak, 
went to Mr. Chamberlain, an iHstrument-maker, and, by great urging, 
got the apparatus done just after ten o'clock, hurried to the hospital, 
and reached the room just as Dr. Warren was about to begin the ope- 
ration ; he having given up all hope of my coming. The detailed ac- 
count of this operation will be found in Dr. Warren's communication. 
There was a full attendance ; the interest excited was intense, with the 
most eager scrutiny of the patient. When the operation closed, the 


patient described his state, and Dr. Warren announced his belief that 
there had been insensibility to pain, my feelings may be better imagin- 
ed than described. 

"I was invited to administer it the next day, in an operation for a 
tumor, performed by Dr. Hayward, and with perfect success. 

" On the 23d October, I saw Dr. Jackson for the first time since the 
interview last described. I take my account of this interview from a 
memorandum made at the time, the accuracy of which is attested by 
two witnesses of the highest respectability who were present. He said 
he thought he would just look in, that he heard I was doing well with 
the ether, and learned from Mr. Eddy that I intended to take out a pa- 
tent, and would make a good deal by it. I replied that it had been a 
cause of anxiety and expense to me, but that I thought I should now do 
well with it. He said he thought so too, and that he believed he must 
make me a professional charge for advice. I asked him why in this 
case, more than in any other case of his advice, arising out of our pre- 
vious relations, as mentioned at the opening of this memoir. He said 
that his advice had been useful to me, that I should make a good deal 
out of the patent, and that I ought to make him a compensation. I 
told him I would do so if I made much by the patent, independant of 
what I gained in my business. He then said he should charge me S500. 
I told him I would pay him that, if ten per cent, on the nett profits of 
the patent amounted to so much. He said he was perfectly satisfied 
with this arrangement, and so the interview ended. The next morning 
he told Mr. R. H. Eddy what had passed, and two or three days after- 
wards Mr. Eddy suggested to me that instead of paying Dr. Jackson a 
fee, I should interest him in the patent, and give him ten per cent, of 
the nett profits. Mr. Eddy made this suggestion out of friendship to 
Dr. Jackson, whom he wished to benefit. He added that the patent 
would thus have the benefit of Dr Jackson's name and skill ; that he 
would thus have a motive to give his attention to the preparation and 
the apparatus, and we should be able to keep in advance of the im- 
provements that might be suggested by others. He also said that if a 
suit was brought, and Dr. Jackson should be a witness, as he doubtless 
would be, the aid he had given me might be made a handle of by per- 
sons impeaching the patent to invalidate my claim as the discoverer. 
At this time the dentist had organized a formidable opposition to the 
use of ether, and all the medical magazines in the Union, except Boston, 
were arrayed against it. I felt the need of all the aid I could get, and 
was conscious of a want of thorough scientific education myself. I 
was induced by these motives to accede to Mr. Eddy's request, but did 
not then understand that Dr. Jackson claimed to be a discoverer at all. 
But on this head I refer to the affidavits of the Messrs. Eddy. 

"I continued administering the ether in my office, and early in No- 
vember I applied to Di*. Hayward for leave to administer it in a case 
of amputation, which I learned was to'take place at the hospital. Dr. 
H. J. Bigelow, in the mean time, had attended my experiments at my 
office, and taking a deep interest in the subject, prepared a memoir, 
which he read to the Boston Society for Medical Improvement, and 
subsequently to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 

" The surgeons of the hospitals informed me that they thought it their 
duty to decline the use of the preparation until informed what it was. 


I immediately wrote to Dr. Warren, the senior surgeon, disclosing the 
whole matter. The operation took place on the 7th November. About 
half an hour beforehand, Dr. H. J. Bigelow called for me, and said he 
wished me to be on the spot, in case it should be determined to admit 
me. After remaining in the ante-room for some time, it was resolved 
by the surgeons to permit the experiment, and I administered the ether 
with perfect success. This was the first amputation. I will also re- 
mark that Dr. Jackson was absent from the city at this time, and knew 
nothing of the operation. 

On the 21st November, I administered the ether in an operation for a 
tumor, at the Bromfield House, in the presence of a number of medical 
gentlemen, among whom I noticed Dr. Jackson. This was the first 
time he had seen it administered, and no one hut myself had administered 
it in Boston or elsewhere, to my knowledge. In this instance Br. 
Jackson apiieared merely as a spectator. On the 2(Z January, 1847, 
he did the first act indicating to the surgeons that he had any 
interest in the subject. On that day he called at the hospital with some 
oxygen gas as an antidote for asphyxia, which he heard was pro- 
duced by the ether. Bat before this time the surgeons had satisfied 
themselves that asphyxia was not produced. With the single excep- 
tion of an intimation to Dr. Warren,' lohich was after its establishment at 
the hospital, and which appears in his communication, none of the sur- 
geons or other persons engaged in these experiments had received any idea 
from Dr. Jackson himself, or from his conduct, that he was in any way 
connected loith this discovery, responsible for the iise of the preparation^ 
entitled to the credit of its success, or liable to the odium of its failure'. 

" If death or serious injury had occurred to any on*, Dr. Jackson could 
not have been in the least degree implicated. It was not until danger 
was over, and success certain, until the discovery had arrested the atten- 
tion of the world, until the formidable opposition of the dentists and of 
all the medical magazines and societies in other places had become pow- 
erless, that Dr. Jackson began to involve himself in it, and that his claim 
to have anticipated the eflfects, and communicated them to me, was 
brought forward. 

" On the 19th October, as soon as I felt confident of success, I addres- 
ed a note to my former partner. Dr. Wells, informing him of what I had 
done, and asking him to come to Boston and assist me in bringing the 
discovery into use in dentistry. He replied by the letter in the appen- 
dix, of October 20, 1846. He came to Boston, saw several experiments 
in my office, expressed himself alarmed, said I should kill some one yet, 
and break myself up in my business. He left abruptly, but without in- 
timating a claim to the discovery, although he could recognise the ether, 
and was freely told that it was ether. I have also the authority of Dr. 
Warren and Dr. Hay ward for saying that no allusion was made by Dr. 
Wells to ether, to their knowledge, when he made his experiment in Bos- 
ton, in 1844-5, 

"I am aware that a communication to an institution whose objects 
are scientific, and not personal, gives me no right to argue the question 
of my own claim to a discovery, in opposition to the claims of others. 
I have endeavored to state no facts but such as fairly illustrate the his- 
tory of this demonstration. If these have any bearing upon the claims 
of others, I am entitled to the benefit of the effect. But this memoir is 

not intended to present the whole of my comparative rights, as against 
the el aims of Dr. Jackson or Dr. Wells. If a tribunal were opened 
for such a discussion, I would most cheerfully prepare for the hearing, 
and submit myself to the judgment, of any enlightened umpire. I have 
proposed such a course to Dr. Jackson, who has declined it. 

"In justice to myself, I should say, that I took out my patent early, 
before I realized how extensively useful the discovery would be, and be- 
side the motive of profit and remuneration to myself, I was advised that 
it would be well to restrain so powerful an agent, which might be em- 
ployed for the most nefarious purposes. I gave free rights to all chari- 
table institutions, and offered to sell the right to surgeons and physicians 
for a very small price, such as no one could object to paying, and rea- 
sonably to dentists. I had little doubt that the proper authorities would 
take it out of private hands, if the public good required it, making the 
discoverer, who had risked reputation, and sacrificed time and monej', 
such a compensation as justice required. But as the use has now be- 
come general and almost necessary, I have long since abandoned the 
sale of rights, and the public use the ether freely; and I believe I am the 
only persoa in the world to whom this discovery has, so far, been a pe- 
cuniary loss. 

" Most respectfully, your obedient servant, 

"W. T. G. MORTON. 

"Boston, (U. S. A.) July 31, 1847." 

This statement brings the discovery down to a time when it became 
fully established, and when complete publicity was given it by several 
successful operations under its influence in the Massachusetts Hospital, 
It is fully suppor&ed by Dr. George Hayward, one of the surgeons 
in the Massachusetts General Hospital, and much in detail, by the 
testimony of disinterested witnesses. The following is a note from Dr. 
H. in reference thereto : 

" Boston, February 5th, 1852. 
" Dear Sir : The article by R. H. Dana, jr., Esq., on the ether dis- 
covery, (Dr. Morton's Memoir,) which appeared in Littell's Living Age 
for March, 1848, was read to me before it was printed; and to my best 
knowledge and belief all its statements are correct. 

" I remain, very truly yours, &c., 


" Hon. Geo. T. Davis." 

It is proved that, prior to 1844, Dr. Morton was associated in practice 
with Dr. Horace Wells as a surgeon dentist. That afterwards he 
became a student of medicine with Dr. Charles T. Jackson, and a 
boarder in his family. That in pursuance of the suggestion of Sir 
Humphrey Davy, mentioned above, Dr. Wells was experimenting 
on nitrous oxide, and professed to have been successful in several 
instances in extracting teeth without pain from patients under its 
influence. That in the winter of 1844-'5, Dr. Wells came to Bos- 
ton and desired to make public exhibition of his alleged discover}', 
when Dr. Morton, as his friend, obtained permission for him to ex- 
hibit before a public assembly, and himself assisted on the occasion. 
The experiment of Dr. Wells proved a faili\re: he was greatly morti- 
fied, and presently abandoned the pursuit. 


It is very reasonable to suppose that this attempt of Dr. Wells, al- 
thouc^h it resulted unfortunately, did, in connexion with his profession 
and his previous studies, turn the mind of Dr. Morton still more strongly 
in that direction. He certainly had just reason to hope that, although 
nitrous oxide would not produce the desired result, he could find some 
other gas or vapor which would. He was young and ardent— a sur- 
geon dentist with already a large business, and he was condemned to 
witness daily the excruciating pain occasioned by his more difficult ope- 
rations, especially when nervous and sensitive females were the subjects. 
It is natural to suppose that a humane desire to remove so much suffer- 
ing, and especially a prospect of tlie enviable reputation and high for- 
tune which should attend such a discovery, caused it to take full posses- 
sion of his mind. 

He was in a situation hijghly favorable to the progress of his inquiries. 
His facilities for study and the progress which he made generally in his 
profession, can hardly be better presented than in the following certifi- 
cates and diploma : 

Harvard University. — Medical Matriculation. Mr. Wm. Thos. Green 
Morton has Matriculated. 

Boston, Nov. 6lh, 1844. WALTER CHANNING, Dean. 

Harvard University. — Lectures on Anatomy and Surgery. Admit 
W. T. G. Morton. 

November, 1844. JOHN C. WARREN. 

Harvard University. — Principles of Surgery and Clinical Surgery, 
by Geo. Hayward, M. D. Admit W. T. G. Morton. 
November, 1844. • 

Harvard University. — Lectures on Materia Medica, by Jacob Bigelow, 
M. D. Admit W. T. G. Morton. 
Boston, November, 1844. 

Harvard University. — Theory and Practice of Physic, hy John Ware, 
M. D. Admit W. T. G. Morton. . 
November, 1844. 

Harvard University. — Theory and Practice of Midwifery and Medical 
Jurisprudence, by Walter Channing, M. D. Admit W. T. G. Morton. 
Boston, November, 1844. 

Harvard University. — Lectures on Chemistry. Admit Mr. W. T. G. 

November, 1844. " J. W. WEBSTER, Professor. 

Admit Mr. Wm. Thos. Green Morton to the Massachusetts General 

Boston, November 6, 1844. 

This ticket admits Mr. W. T, G. Morton to the school of Practical 
Anatomy, in Harvard University. 



^J^^^'^^^^^y^i'^^'^^'^-r'i^-— Lectures on Anatomy and Surirery. Admit 
W. T. G. Morton. 

November, 1845. JOHN C. WARREN. 

Harvard UmYmsnY.— Principles of Surgery and Clinical Surgery 
by George Hayward, M. D. Admit W. T. G. Morton. 
November, 1845. 

Harvard University. — Lectures on Materia Medica, bv Jacob Bigelow 
M. D. W. T. G. Morton. 
Boston, November, 1845. 

Harvard University. — Theorij and Practice of Physic, by John Ware 
M. D. Admit W. T. G. Morton. 
November, 1845. 

Harvard University. — Theory and Practice of Midwifery, and Medi- 
cal Jurisprudence, by Walter Channing, M. D. Admit W. T. G. Morton. 
Boston, November, 1845. 

Harvard University. — Lectures on Chemistry. Admit Mr. W. T. G. 

November, 1845. J. W. WEBSTER, Professor. 

Admit Mr. Wm. Thos. Green Morton to the Massacliusetts General 
Hospital, four months. 

Boston, November 5, 1845. 


Professores et Curatores Senatiis Medici Universitatis Waskingtoni- 
ani(B Baltimorensis omnibus has litteras visuris, salutem. 

Nos summa ReipublicEE Marilandise auctoritate instructi, certiores 
facimus omnes ad quos ha3 litteras nostras pervenerint, virum ornatissi- 
mum W. T. G. Morton artis Medicae et Chirurgicae studiis excuitum, in 
sessione nostra solemni, apud Nos esse comprobatum. Quocirca eidem 
W. T. G. Mbrton Doctoris Medici Gradum, majore sufFragiorum nu- 
mero concessimus, eumque singulis inter nos et alibi gentium privilegiis 
et juribus ad gradum istum pertinentibus, frui jussimus. 

Cujus rei quo major sit fides, Prsesentes Has, Collegii Sigillo et chiro- 
graphis nostris munitas, dare placuit. 

Datum Baltimori Die Mensis Cal Martis annoque SalutisReparataB 18 . 

Johannes C. S. Monkur, M. D., Prax. et Theoret. Med. Professor. 

GuLiELMUS H. Stokes, M. D., Inst. Med. Med. Jurisp. et Insan. Professor. 

Georgium McCook, A.m. M. D., Professor Chirurgiee. 

Geo. C. M. Roberts, M. D. D.D., Obstet. et Mul. et Inf. Morb. Professor. 

Tho. E. Bond, A.M., M. D., Therap. Mat. Med. et Hyg. Professor. 

Rege N. Wright, A.M., M. D., Chem. Professor. 

Georgium McCook, A.M., M. D., Professor Anatomiee. 

J. V. McJilton, 

Z. Collins Lee, 

Benjamin Kurtz, D.D., 

Johannes G. Morris, D.D., 
[seal.] Hugh Jenkins, 

J. T. Mackenzie, M. D., 

^ Curatores. 



To the Secretary of the Executive Committee of the American Society of 

Dental Surgeons : 

Mr. W. T. G. Morton, Dentist, entered his name with me as a student 
of medicine March 20, 1844, and attended to practical anatomy, in the 
Massachusetts Medical College, during the winter of that year, where 
he dissected with diligence and zeal, and paid special attention to the 
anatomy of the head and throat — parts of human anatomy particularly 
important to the surgeon dentist. He also studied Bell's and other stan- 
dard works on anatom)% and attended the lectures of Drs. Warren, Hay- 
ward, and other professors. I would recommend him as a suitable per- 
son for admission as a dental surgeon. He is a skilful operator in den- 
tistry, both in the surgical and mechanical departments, and has studied 
the chemical properties of the ingredients required for the manufacture 
of artificial teeth. CHARLES T. JACKSON, M. D, 

Prior to this time. Dr. Jackson had, as he states, recommended chloric 
ether as an external application to allay pain in the teeth and gums ; 
and had furnished several dentists in Boston, his friends, with the article 
in its purity ; be does not name Dr. Morton among the number ; but 
from the relations which subsisted between them, from the fact that Dr. 
Morton was at that time the family dentist of Dr. Jackson, as well as 
his student in medicine, your committee think the statement of Dr. Mor- 
ton, in this particular, supported by that of Dr. Jackson. Add to this 
the fact, well known at the time to college students, and especially to 
students of chemistry and medicine, that the vapor of sulphuric ether 
inhaled for a short time allayed pain, and we have the circumstances 
which would naturally direct the mind of the inquirer to that substance 
as one whose inhalation would be probably safe, and which would ren- 
der the patient insensible during a short but painful operation. As ad- 
ditional proof of the direction of Dr. Morton's studies, and that he had 
the means in his power of knowing all that was known of this 'agent 
then familiarly used as a nepenthe, your committee are referred to a 
bill of books purchased by Dr. Morton of B. B. Mussey, of Boston, on the 
3d of May, 1845. Among them is Peruias Materia Medica, which con-^ 
tains the following sentence : " the vapor of ether is inhaled in spasmodic 
asthma, ehronic catarrh, dyspepsia, and whooping cough, and to relieve the 
effects caused by the accidental inhilation of chloraic gas" Its intoxica- 
ting or stupefying effects were, as we have already said, well known to 
students and scientific men. 

On the 30th day of June, 1846, three months before the discovery was 
made public, it appears, by the statement of Richard H. Dana, jr.. At- 
torney at Law, and by a charge in his books, that an article of agree- 
ment was entered into by Dr. Morton and G. G. Hayden, by which the 
latter agreed to take chai-ge of the business of Dr. Morton for a time; 
Dr. Morton giving to Mr. Dana as a reason of his entering into the ar- 
rangement, that he wished to give his attention to another matter of 
great importance, which, if successful, would revolutionize the practice 
of dentistry. 

This conversation was shortly after detailed by Richard H. Dana, jr. 
to Dr. Francis Dana, jr., whose corroborative evidence puts the substance 
of the conversation beyond question, and the date is fixed by that of the 
instrument and the entry above referred to. 

Granville G. Hayden testifies — 

"That, about the last of Jane, 1840, Dr/William T. G. Morton called 
upon me at my office, No. 23, Tremont How, and stated to me that he 
wished to make some arrangements with me that would relieve him 
from all care as to the superintendence of those employed by him in 
making teeth, and all other matters in his office. He stated, as a reason 
for urging me to superintend his affairs in his office, that he had an idea 
in his head, connected with dentistry, which he thought ' would be one 
of the greatest things ever known,' and that he wished to perfect it, and 
give his whole time and attention to its development. Being extremely 
urgent in the matter, I made an engagement with him the same day, 
according to his request. I then asked him what his 'secret' was. *0h,' 
said he, 'you will know in a short time.' 1 still insisted upon knowing it, 
and he finally told me the same night — to wit, the night of the last day 
.of June, 1846, aforesaid — that 'it was SQmething he had discovered 
w^hich would enable him to extract teeth without pain.' I then asked 
him if it was not what Dr. Wells, his former partner, had used ; and he 
replied, 'No! nothing like it;' and, furthermore, 'that it was something 
that neither he, nor any one else, had ever used.' He then told me he 
had already tried it upon a dog, and described its effects upon bim, which 
(from his description) exactly correspond with the effects of ether upon 
persons who have subjected themselves to its influence, under my obser- 
vation. All this happened in June, 1846. He then requested me not 
to mention what he had communicated to me." 

Francis Whitman testifies as follows — 

"I have often heard Dr. Morton speak about discovering some means 
of extracting teeth without pain. This discovery appeared to be the 
subject of his thoughts and investigations during the greater part of 
last year, i. e., 1846. One day — I think it was previous to July, '1846 — 
Dr. M., in speaking of the improvements he had made in his profession, 
and of some one improvement in particular, said, if he could onl}' extract 
teeth without pain, he ' would make a stir.' I replied, that I hardly 
thought it could be done. He said, he believed it could, and that he 
would find out something yet to accomplish his purpose. In conversa- 
tion with Dr. M., some time in July, he spoke of having his patients 
coming in at one door, having all their teeth extracted without pain and 
without knowing it, and then going into the next room, arid having a full 
set put in. 

" I recollect Dr. Morton came into the office one day in great glee, and 
exclaimed, that he had 'found it,' and that he could extract teeth with- 
out pain ! I don't recollect what followed ; but, soon after, he wanted 
one of us in the office to try it, and he then sent William and Thomas 
out to hire a man to come and have an experiment tried upon him. 
After all these circumstances happened. Dr. Hayden advised Dr. Morton 
to consult with some chemist in relation to this discovery. I went, at 
Dr. Morton's request, to see if Dr. Jackson had returned, (he having been 
absent from the city,) but found that he was still absent." 

From this testimony, corroborative of the statement of Dr. Morton, it 
does, in the opinion of your committee, sufficiently appear that he was, 
prior and subsequent to the 30th of June, 1840, intent upon the discovery 
of some antesthetic agent, which would enable him to extract teeth with- 



out pain ; and that he had faith and confidence that he was on the point 
of making the discovery. He says, in his narrative, rhat the anaesthetic 
accent, which he then had in view, was sulphuric cither, and the proof ad- 
duced is, in the opinion of your committee, equally conclusive in support 

of that fact. ■ , , . « t ^ n » u 

Theadore Metcalf sailed for Europe in the ship Joshua Bates on the . 
6th day of July, 1840, on a tour, from which he returned in the fall of 
1847. We give below a note addressed by him to Dr. Morton ; and an 
extract from a letter to the trustees of the General Hospital, each a let- 
ter to N. J. Bowditch Esq., bearing directly on this point. 
In his note to Dr. Morton dated December 20, 1847, he says: 

"I can only state that I remember to have met you at Mr. Burnett's 
store early in the summer of 1846, and to have had a conversation with 
you in regard to the medicinal qualities of sulphuric ether, a quantity of 
which you were then purchasing. I cannot, as you desire, give the pre- 
cise date, but know it to have been previous to July 6, as 1 left Boston 
on that day for a tour, from which I have but a few weeks returned." 

"Boston, January 26, 1848. 

" Sir : In answer to your inquiry respecting the nature of my interview 
with Dr. Morton, I can only add to my note of December 20, that the 
conversation was commenced by some inquiry on his part, concerning 
the nature and etiects of sulphuric ether, a vial of which he then held 
in his hand. 

"In answer to his several questions, I gave him such information_as 
he could have obtained from any intelligent apothecary at that time, and 
also related to him some personal experience as to its use as a substitute 
for the nitrous oxide; adding the then generally received opinion, that 
its excessive inhalation would produce dangerous, if not fatal conse- 
quences. Some reference was made — but whether by Mr. Morton or 
myself, I cannot remember — to the unsuccessful experiments of his for- 
hier partner, Mr. Wells, with the nitrous oxide. It was one of those 
casual conversations which quickly pass from the mind ; and it was for 
the first time recalled to my memory, upon seeing, months after, in a 
French journal, an account of the anesthetic effects of eJher, the dis- 
covery of which was ascribed by the writer to a Boston dentist. 
•'I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant, 


" N. I. Bowditch, Esq." 

In his letter to the Trustees of the Massachusetts General Hospital, 
dated Boston, January 6th, 1849, Mr. Metcalf saj-s : 

"This belief is founded partly upon my memory of (he conversation 
with Morton and partly upon the fact that when in Italy, months after, I 
saw for the first time an account of etherization in a j^Wnch journal, \n 
which its discovery was ascribed simp it/ to a 'Boston dentist;' I said at 
once that 1 was sure Morton must be the man, for he was engaged upon 
ether before I left home, and that I now knew why he had been so curious 
and at the same time shy in his conversation with me.'' ' 

If we consider the then pursuit of Dr. Morton, his earnest desire for 
information, and his anxiety to preserve his secret, his shyness with 



others and his comparative freedom in conversation with'Mr. Metcalf 
will be fully explained. Mr. Metcalf was a chemist, possessed of all the 
current scientific knowledge of his profession, and he was just setting 
out on a voyage to Europe, so that Dr. Morton could avail himself of 
his knowledge and his suggestions wit.h safely to his secret. 

Dr. Ilayden says that "about the first of August, 1840, Dr. Morton 
asked me where he could get some pure ether, and asked me to go to 
Joseph Burnett's apothecary shop and purchase a four-ounce vial full of 
ether, which he said he wished to carry home with him, he being about 
to leave town for Needham, where he then resided. And about the 
same time he explained to me the nature and effects of ether, and told 
me that if he could get any patient to inhale a certain quantity of ether 
gas, it would cause insensibility to the pain of extracting teeth, and he 
tried to induce me to take it. Dr. Morton said he had breathed it him- 
self, and it would do no harm ; and he at the same time tried to induce 
three young men in the office to take the gas. This was in August, 
1846. He was continually talking about his discovery to me. From 
the time I engaged with Dr. M. as aforesaid, he frequently stated to me 
that he had nearly perfected every department in dentistry, save extract- 
ing teeth without pain, and that he was determined to accomplish that 
also. But towards the last of September following, he intimated to me 
that, in some particulars, his discovery did not work exactly right, and, 
in my presence, was consulting his books to ascertain something further 
about ether." 

The inquiry made of Dr. Hayden for a chemist of whom pure sul- 
phuric ether could be obtained, was probably to avoid going too fre- 
quently to the same place for the ether, and thus exciting inquirj^ which 
might lead to a discovery of his secret ; and at last he maj^ have sent 
Dr. Hayden, instead of going himself, for the same purpose. We find 
here as early as August 1st, 1846, the anaesthetic agent, sulphuric ether, 
connected by Dr. Morton with the object of his pursuit. 

Shortly after this, and prior to the 28th of September, 1846, Dr. Mor- 
ton called upon Mr. ^Vightman, a well known maker of philosophical 
instruments and apparatus in Boston, told him that he had abandoned 
his views of increasing the security of artificial teeth by atmospheric 
pressure, which he found to be erroneous, and was engaged upon some- 
thing of much greater importance to his profession. He then wished 
him to show him some gas bags of India rubber cloth made for retaining 
gas, and inquired whether it would do to put sulphuric ether in them. 
Not being able to give Dr. Morton satisfactory information on the sub- 
ject, he advised him to call on "Dr. Jackson, which he said he would do. 
About this time some sulphuric ether was procured for Dr. Morron, not 
in his "own name, and brought to his oflice by \Vm. P. Leavitt, one of 
the young men in his employment. Another of the young men, Thomas 
R. Spear, was first prevailed upon to inhale the vapor, but ihe eflect on 
him was far from being satisfactory. Leavitt then took it, also with no 
satisfactory result, and Dr. Morton was for a time greatly disheartened. 
(See depositions of Leavitt and Spear, in Appendix.) He complained to 
Dr. Hayden that, in some particulars, his discovery did not work exactly 
right, and, "in my presence," says the witness, "was consulting his 
books to ascertain something further about ether." We find this state- 
ment fully sustained by the testimony of Francis Whitman. H^3 says: 


"I told Dr. Morton I knew what it was that William had brought, and 
. said it was c' loric ether. Dr. M. then said he wished to know if ether 
would dissolvo India rubber, and sent Wm. P. Leavitt to inquire of Dr. 
Gay if it wotid. About this time Dr. M. asked me to get the books on 
chemistry, and find what they said about ether. I did so, and read it. 
over to him, nnd I think he went to Burnett's to see if he could find 
something the re." 

Your comnnttee are satisfied from the statement of Dr. Morton, and 
from the evidence by which it is thus far fully corroborated, that prior 
to and on the 30th of September, 1846, he was occupied with the con- 
viction that an anaesthetic agent might be discovered which would re- 
move all insensibility to pain in patients submitted to the operations of 
the dentist ; tKat sulphuric ether was. the agent ; and that perfect suc- 
cess required only full assurance of its safety, ether of a good quality, 
and the prope -• mode of administering it; that he sought assurance of 
these by cons' alting books to which he had access, and learned meu 
from whom L3 could obtain the current knowledge and experience of 
the day. 

On the 30ta of September, 1846, as he declares, he called on Dr. 
Jackson with a view of obtaining such information as would, if possi- 
ble, remove the difficulties which he had encountered, and at the same 
time with a determination to conceal from him the object of his long 
and earnest pursuit, lest his hint should be taken and he be anticipated 
in this discovery. There were four persons present at this interview, 
and each gives an account different from the rest as to what occurred 
at it. All, however, agree in one particular, namel}'^, that Dr. Morton 
assumed total ignorance of sulphuric ether, its nature and qualities, and 
left the impre.-sion on the minds of those present that he knew nothing 
of it. That he did at that time in fact know much of sulphuric ether; 
that it had for many months preceding been the subject of his earnest 
thought and ^iedulous inquiry; that his mind was so much possessed 
with it that he feared, in every one with whom he conversed, a rival 
who might an dcipate him in the discovery and development of its quali- 
ties, is provefi to the entire satisfaction of your committee. A former 
committee of 'his House, to whose able report we shall often have occa- 
sion to refer, speaking of the disguise thus practised by Dr. Morton, 
says : 

"This does not militate against the general effect of the statement 
• of Dr. Morton. He went, as he says, to Dr. Jackson to obtain certain 
information ; lut at the same time anxious to conceal from him the 
object of his pursuit, being fearful lest Dr. Jackson might anticipate 
him in bringir.ig the discovery to perfection. We deal with this matter 
as a question of fact, not of morals, and do not decide whether Dr. 
Morton niight, consistently with the obligations which truth imposes, 
use artificial means to conceal a mental conception which he did not 
wish to divulge. We believe, however, where a person has a right to 
his secret, and is under no obligations to disclose it, a direct denial of 
that which wr s fact, for the purpose of such concealment, has not been 
visited with t hrong moral censure. We would instance the case of 
Walter Scott at the table of George 4th, who, when toasted by his 
majesty as tl4»*author of Waverly, declared he was not the author;" 


Yovir committee concur in the opinion that if-any moral censure is to 
be visited upon Dr. Morton for a studied concealment of his possession 
of what be deemed to be a treasure above all price, and for the safety 
of which he so much feared, that censure must be slight indeed. His 
account of the interview will be found in his memoir to the Academy 
of Arts and Sciences at Paris, above set out. 

Doctor Jackson, M'ho first publicly made claim to the discovery after 
its immense importance was established by several safe and painless 
operations under its influence in the Medical Hospital, avers that he 
first disclosed to Dr. Morton the use of the vapor of pure sulphuric 
ether on the 30th of September; that he then communicated to him 
his prior discovery of its anesthetic qualities, and assured him that it 
would prevent all pain in a surgical operation, and thitt it could be 
used with perfect safety; in short, that he. Dr. Jacl^son, then employed 
Dr. Morton as his agent, operator, or " nurse," to administer this pain- 
destroying vapor; and that then, in the presence of two witnesses, he 
distinctly took upon himself all the responsibility of its administration. 

One of the witnesses present, George O. Barnes, sustains Dr. Jackson's 
statement in two material points, namely, that when he advised the ad- 
ministration of sulphuric ether, he averred that it would render the ope- 
ration painless, and that it was safe, and he would be responsible for its 

The other witness, James Mclntire, though evidently testifying with 
a strong opinion against Dr. Morton, does not support Dr. Jackson on 
either of these important points. He says. Dr. Jackson advised the use 
of sulphuric either ; said it was safe, and that it " would make the pa- 
tients insensible and" the operator " could do what he had a mind to with 
them." But he states no assumption of responsibilitj'^, and no opin- 
ion or assurance of Dr. Jackson, that the vapor of sulphuric either would 
render the patient so insensible as not to perceive pain. The evidence 
of these witnesses will be more particularly considered in another con- 
nexion. Suffice it for the present to say that, your committee are satis- 
fied that Dr. Jackson did not, on that dajr, ''expressly'" assume any such 
responsibility. They cannot credit it, for it is proved by evidence, and 
was admitted in the argument by Dr. Jackson's counsel before a former 
committee of this House, that the morning after the successful operation 
of September 30, when the same was reported to him, he refused a cer- 
tificate in writing to Dr. Morton that the vapor might be inhaled with 
safety. Dr. Jackson could not, as an honorable man, have taken the 
responsibility orally of the exhibition of a medical prescription, claimed 
as his own'^and exhibited by an agent or operator under his instruction ; 
and, forthwith, thereafter, have refused to assume the same responsibility 
in writing. And, indeed, it is usual for physicians to give their prescrip- 
tions in writing, not orally. Nor do your committee beiieve that Dr. 
Jackson on that occasion declared that the inhalation of the vapor of 
sulphuic ether, within safe and proper limits, would render the operation 
painless. If he had advanced such an opinion, it could not have failed 
to be noticed and remembered by his student, Mr. IMcIntire. for it would 
have been the first notice to him of a miracle in surgerj'. But Dr. Jack- 
son's conversation with Mr. Caleb Eddy on the 23(1 of October, 1846, 
and with the Hon. Edward Warren, is in the opinion of your commit- 
tee conclusive upon this subject. On the evening of that day Dr. Jack- 


son visited Mr. Eddy, and gave an account of his conversation between 
him and Dr. Mortonof September 30, which the witness having detailed, 
says: "After Dr. Jackson had related the above, I said to him, 'Dr. 
Jackson, did von know at such time, that after a person had inhaled 
ether, and was asleep, his flesh could be cut with a knife without his 
experiencing any pain?' He replied, 'No, nor Morton either; he is a 
reckless man tor useing it as he has; the chance is, he will kill some- 
body yet.'" And the Hon. E. Warren, in his letter, says : " Dr. Jackson 
told me, in substance, that the so-called discovery was not his, but that Dr.. 
Morton was responsible for it ; that the new use of ether was dangerous, 
and would, he feared, be attended with fatal consequences, that he (Dr. 
Jackson) was not answerable for the results, and that, therefore, he 
would refer me to Dr. Morton for further information." 

We cannot better express our views as to the interview of 30th Sep- 
tember, and the exact value of the evidence which relates to it, than by 
quoting from the report of the former committtee of this House to which 
we have already referred. After a close and careful examination of the 
statements, and evidence in reference to this interview, they say : 

" The evidence, then, amounts to this : Dr. Morton came into Dr. Jack- 
son's office, having in his hand a gas bag, with which he proposed to 
operate on the imagination of a refractory patient by administering to 
her atmospheric air. Dr. Jackson ridiculed the idea. Nitrous oxide 
was spoken of; Dr. Jackson objected to that, saying to Mr. Morton that 
if he attempted to make it, it would become nitric oxide. He then sug- 
gested sulphuric ether, and said it would make the patient insensible, 
and Morton could do what he pleased with her. This conversation, it 
will be noted, all took place about a refractory patient; the object con- 
sidered was the mode of bringing a nervous patient to a condition in 
which she could be operated upon, not in which she would feel no pain 
from the operation. Mr. Mclntire says not one word about pain or 
its absence in the operation — but that the operator could do what he 
pleased with the patient under the influence of sulphuric ether. If this 
conclusion be correct, the information given by Dr. Jackson to Dr. 
Morton was no more than the cm-rent knowledge of the age — no more 
than he would have been told by any scientific man, or than he would 
have read in'books which treat of chemistry and medicine; and if it 
differed in anything from the general opinion of scientific men, it was 
in a stronger than ordinary assurance that the vapor was not injui'ious 
to health. At the same time, it is very clear to your committee that 
Dr. Morton relied more implicitly on information which he obtained 
from Dr. Jackson than from any other source, and that the information 
was given with the unhesitating confidence arising from a consciousness 
of high scientific attainments. 

" This view of the subject awards to Dr. Jackson the merit of greatly 
aiding by his advice and instructions in the discovery. He did not him- 
self produce the result, which was new; or by his information carry 
knowledge in that direction, beyond the point it had already reached. 
He was a safe and reliable guide to its then utmost limit in that direc- 
tion— the Caipe and Abyla of scientific research— but left the sea be- 
yond to be explored by others." 

Doctor Morton having obtained such further information of the 
properties and preparation of sulphuric ether as Dr. Jackson could 


give him, and having heard from him an opinion that it might be 
administered palely, returned to his house, procured a fresh supply of 
the ether, and, as he says, tried upon himself the experiment of its 
inhalation, the manner and elfects of which are fully stated in his 
memoir above set forth. We have no reason to doubt the entire 
truth and accuracy of this statement, though from the natm-e of 
the transaction he cannot verify it by direct evidence. Almost im- 
mediately after he recovered consciousness, and while he was elate with 
the success of his recent experiment, and lull of iresh and newly awa- 
kened confidence, a stout laboring man, in agony with the tooth-ache, 
entered and desired to have his tooth extracted, but shrunk from the 
apprehended pain. He asked to be mesmerized. Dr. Morton told him 
he had a better application than mesmerism, which he proposed to use. 
The man without much inquiry, on the assurance that it was safe and 
would alleviate the pain, consented, and in five minutes after he had 
taken his seat in the operator's chair the great discovery was verified. 

The special circumstances attendant on this first actual experiment, 
were most fortunate for Dr. Morton — for the cause of surgical scicence — 
and for the human race. The patient, owing to his intense suffering, 
was glad to avail himself of any thing, real or imaginary, to relieve the 
pain which he felt, and to mitigate that which he feared. He therefore 
inhaled the vtipor freely, and delighted with the soothing lenitive, he 
continued to inhale it eagerly, until anaesthesia being complete, he had 
forgotten his past sufferings and was beyond the reach of present pain. 
He was a man of vigorous constitution; he immediately rallied, uncon- 
scious of the operation which had been performed, and wholly relieved 
fi'om the pain which so lately afflicted him. If in his stead, the boy, 
who sickened with the inhalation, and whose parents, believing him poi- 
soned, threatened a prosecution, had been the first subject, the experi- 
ments would probably have gone no further ; Dr. Morton would have 
been overwhelmed with censure and ridicule, and we do not think that 
either of the contestants would have come in to assert his claim to the 
disgrace of the failure. Considering the result, it is not a matter of sur- 
prise that Dr. Morton was elate with his success. He immediately an- 
nounced it to those about him, though he concealed from them all, except 
Hayden, the agent with which the anaesthesia had been effected. He 
immediately obtained the certificate of Eben Frost, the subject of his ex- 
periment, (which will be found in the App.,) consulted with Dr. Hayden 
about testing his pain-subduing vapor in some operation in the Hospital, 
and next morning called on Dr. Jackson, informed him of the success of 
the experiment, and asked him for a certificate that the vapor was harm- 
less in its effects. This Dr. Jackson refused to give him. 

Dr. Morton gives, in the paper above set forth, the subsequent steps 
taken by him to perfect and verify his discovery. His»general narrative 
of alternate success and discouragement in the cases arising in his office 
is fully corroborated by Dr. Hayden. He says : 

"The first successful experiment upon any patient was made Septem- 
ber 30, 184G, by inhaling ether through a folded cloth, and on that occa- 
sion a tooth was extracted without pain. We tried repeated experi- 
ments with the same means subsequently, and they all resulted in total 
failures. Dr. M. said that Dr. .laclcson recommended a certain appra- 
tus, which he lent Dr. Morton from his laboratory, consisting of a glass 


tube of equal size throughout, having a neck, and being about three feet 
long. This was likewise a total failure. So far, all our experiments, 
with one exception, proving abortive, we found that a different appara- 
tus must be obtained, and it was at this time that Dr. M. procured, from 
Mr. Wightman, of Cornhill, a conical glass tube, with which, by inser- 
ting a sponge saturated wii.h ether in the larger end, we had better suc- 
cess, and our experiments began to assume a more promising aspect. _ 

"Still, our success was not uniform, and far from perfe'ct. At this 
time, Dr. M. suggested that our failures might be owing to the fact that, 
in all our experiments so far, the patient had breathed the expired vapor 
back into the vessel, thus inhaling the same over and over. He then 
stated that the expired air should pass of into the surrounding atmos- 
phere, and wished me to make a pattern for an apparatus, by which the 
air should pass into the vessel, combine with the ether, be inhaled into 
the lungs, and the expired air thrown off into the room. This idea, as 
thus forced upon him, and communicated to me, was fully elaborated, 
and corresponds most accurately with the apparatus now in use in this 
country and in Europe, and for which Dr. M. has applied for letters pa- 
tent. I replied, that he had explained his idea so clearly that he would 
have no difficulty in directing a philosophical-instrument maker to man- 
ufacture a proper inhaler at once, without a pattern, and recommended 
him to Mr. Chamberlain, in School street, to whom he applied accord- 
ingly, and who made, as thus desired, the first inhaler. And with such 
an apparatus, we have had almost uniform success to this day, the re- 
sults of which are known to the world. 

" And I will here state that, on the evening of the 30th of September, 
after the first experiment had been made with success. Dr. Morton spoke 
about going to the hospital and using the ether there, and thus bring out 
the new discovery. After several other successful experiments, the 
question came up anew, how to introduce it to the world, when Dr. M. 
stated that Dr. Jackson had declined to countenance it, or aid in bring- 
ing out, and then he (Dr. M.) said he would see Dr. Warren, and have 
his discovery introduced into the Massachusetts General Hospital. He 
went out and soon returned, stating that Dr. W. had agreed to afford 
him an opportunity to apply the vapor, as soon as practicable, in the 

-* So much for what occurred in the office of Dr. Morton, his difficulties, 
and the skill and energy with which he overcame them. But his dis- 
covery was now to come before the world, and from the time of its ad- 
vent, witnesses multiply on us in numbers too great for all to receive 
even a passing notice. The following is an account given by Dr. Hay- 
ward, a short time after, of the first introduction of the vapor of ether 
into the Massachusetts General Hospital — 

" The ether was administered at the hospital by Dr. Morton on the 
16th of October, to a man upon whom Dr. Warren was to operate for a 
tumor on the face. The effect in this case was not complete ; the suf- 
fering, however, was very much less than it would have been under 
ordinary circumstances, and the result was on the whole so satisfactory 
that a second trial was made on the following day. 

"The patient to whom the ether was administered on the 17th of 
October was a female with a fatty tumor on the arm, between the 


shoulder and the elbow. At the request of Dr. Warren I did the opera- 
tion. The patient was insensible during the whole time, and was en- 
tirely unconscious. The operation lasted about seven minutes, but 
could not be regarded as a severe one. 

" These are the first surgical operations, except those of dentistry, that 
were ever performed on patients while under the influence of the ether. 

"On the 1st of November I took charge of the surgical department of 
the hospital; and on the following day, in conversation with Dr. War- 
ren, I stated that I did not intend to allow the medical patients to inhale 
this preparation of Dr. Morton (for we were then ignorant of the precise 
nature of it) during my period of service, unless all the surgeons of the 
hospital were told what it was, and were satisfied of the safety of using 
it. Dr. Warren agreed with me as to the propriety of this course'. 

" On the 6th of November, Dr. Morton called at my house and asked me 
if I was willing to have his preparation inhaled by a patient, whose 
limb I was to amputate on the following day. I told him of the con- 
versation I had had with with Dr. Warren on the subject. Dr. Morton 
at once said that he was ready to let us know what the article was, 
and to give the surgeons of the hospital the right to use it there when 
they pleased. He added, that he would send me a letter in the course 
of the day to this effect. I requested him to address it to Dr. Warren, 
as he was the senior surgeon, and told him that I would submit it to my 
colleagues at a consultation to be held on the following morning. He 
wrote the letter accordingly ; the subject was maturely considered by 
the surgeons, who were unanimously of opinion that the ether should 
be inhaled by the individual who was to undergo the operation that 

"The patient was a girl of twenty years of age, named Alice Mohan, 
who had suffered for two years from a disease of the knee, which termi- 
nated in suppuration of the joint and caries of the bones. For some 
months before the operation, her constitutional symptoms had become 
threatening, and the removal of the limb seemed to be the only chance 
for her life. The ether was administered by Dr. Morton. In a little 
more than three minutes she was brought under the influence of it ; the 
limb was removed, and all the vessels were tied but the last, which was 
the sixth, before she gave any indication of consciousnes's or suffering. 
She then groaned and cried out faintly. She afterwards said that she 
was wholly unconscious and insensible up to that time, and she seemed 
to be much surprised when she was told that her limb was off. She re- 
covered rapidlv, suffering less than patients usuall)'- do after amputation 
of the thigh, regained her strength and flesh, and was discharged well 
on the 22d of December." 

Nor are there wanting abundant contemporary papers attesting the 
discovery, recognising Dr. Morton as its ^luthor, and showing its rapid 
advance to the full confidence of the public. (See Appendix.) We give 
below a copy of the letter written by Dr. Hayward, at the request of 
Dr. Warren, inviting Dr. Morton to attend at the first of the above named 
surgical operations, and administer to the patient : 

" Dear Sir : I write at the request of Dr. J. C. Warren, to invite )'ou 
to be present on Friday morning at 10 o'clock at the hospital, to admin- 


ister to a patient who is then to be operated upon the preparation which 
you have invented to diminish the sensibility to pain. 

" Yours, respectfully, 

''House Surgeon to the General Hospital, October 14ih, 1846. 
" Dr. Morton, Tremont Row." 

Dr. Hayward states above that Dr. Morton, on the 6th of November, 
1846, addressed a letter to Dr. Warren informing him that the anaesthe- 
tic agent which he used was the vapor of sulphuric ether, and offering 
the free use of it to the hospital. We give below Dr. Warren's brief 
note in reply : 

" Deak Sir : I beg leave to acknowledge the reception of your polite 
letter. I shall lose no time in laying it before the surgeons of the 

" I remain respectfully, yours, 
"Park street, November 6th." "J. C. WARREN. 

We think proper also to insert two other notes written December 
11th, 1846; one by Dr. Hayward, at the request of Dr. Warren ; the 
other by Dr. Warren himself; both relative to an operation to be per- 
formed on the 12th; also, a certificate of Dr. Warren of January 16th, 

" Sir : I am requested by Dr; Warren to ask you, if convenient to 
yourself, to a*lminister your preparation to a patient from whom a part 
of the upper jaw is to be removed. The operation will be done by Dr. 
Warren to-morrow at 11, A. M. "Yours, &c., 

"M. G. Hospital, December 11, 1846. 

" Dr. Morton, Tremont Row." 

" Dr. Morton — Dear Sir : I inclose a note which I have just received 
D'om Dr. Brown. I think there would be a propriety in granting his 
request. There will be an operation at the hospital to morrow at 11 
o'clock, at which I shall be glad to have your aid, if perfectly convenient. 

" Truly yours, 

"2, Park,street, X)ecem6er 11." "J. C. WARREN. 

" Boston, January 6, 1 847. 
"I hereby declare and certify, to the best of my knowledge and recol- 
lection, that ] never heard of the use of sulphuric ether by inhalation as 
a means of preventing the pain of surgical operations, until it was 
suggested by Dr. Morton in the latter part of October, 1846. 

" Professor of Anatomy and Surgery of 

the Massachusetts General Hospital." 

The papers given above show how, in the ordinary course of things, 
a discovery like this inscribes itself at once on something more exact 
and more dui able than mere human memory. 

Your committee will add to the above a letter from Dr. Warren to 
their chairman, and a copy of the first entry in the records of the Mas- 
sachusetts General Hospital, touching the introduction of sulphuric 
ether in their surgical operations : 


" Boston, January 21, 1852. 
"Sir: Havinp; had iVio honor of iTcrivinfr from you somr questions re- 
lating to the elhei'eal inhalation, 1 have made good and true answers 
thereto, which I beg leave to enclose, and with these a si ort statement 
of the first instance of ethereal inhalation, which the committee can re- 
fer to if their time and inclination permit, 

" 1 have the honor to be, respectfully, your obedient servant, 


"Hon. W. H. BissELL." 

"Boston, January 21, 1852. 

" 1. Chloric ether and sulphuric ether are used in our hos^pital. Chloro- 
form is not, having been known to be fatal in many cases. The first sur- 
gicnl operation with ether was done by me, at the request of Dr. Wm. 
T. G. Morton, on ihe 16th of October, 1846. The circum tances of the 
case are in a separate paper herewith enclosed. 

"2. Ether is used in our hospital in all operations acc( mpanied with 
much pain. Its eflect is very remarkable in the prevention of pain, in 
all cases when properly administered. In my address to the American 
■Medical Association at Cincinnati, in May, 1850, I stated that I had 
mj'self employed sulphuric and chloric ether, or seen them employed, in 
more than 1,500 cases. From that time to the present, ] cannot speak 
with numerical accuracy, but I suppose the cases have eideeded 1,000 ; 
thus making an aggregate of more than 2,500. In no on ^ instance has 
any serious result happened to the patient within my kno -vledge. 

"3. As to the diminution of mortality, it is entirely impossible to give 
any definite answer; but the diminution of suffering may be supposed 
to diminish mortality by removing one of its causes. 

"4. In my private practice I have always used ether for the prevention 
of pain in severe surgical operations, and usually, if not universally, 
with great relief to the patient and satisftxction to myseilf 

"5. The medical faculty within my knowledge generallv consider the 
application of ether to the prevention of pain as the most valuable ad- 
dition to the m.eans of relieving human suffering since the introduction 
of vaccination. 


First case of ethereal inhalation. Copied from the surgical records of 
the Massachusetts General Hospital. 

" This case is remarkable in the annals of surgery. Ic was the first 
surgical operation performed under the influence of ether. Dr. Warren 
had been applied to by Dr. Morton, a dentist, with the roquest that he 
would try the inhalation of a fluid, which he said he h; d found to be 
effectual in preventing pain during operations on the tee h. Dr. War- 
ren having satisfied himself that the breathing of the lluid would be 
harmless, agreed to employ it when an opportunity presented. None 
occurring in private practice within a day or two, he determined to use 
it on this patient. 

"Before the operation began some time was lost in waiting for Dr. 
Morton, and ultimately it was thought he would not appear. At 
length he arrived, and explained his detention by informing: Dr. Warren 
that he had been occupied in preparing his apparatus, wMich consisted 


of a tube connected witli a glass globe. This apparatus he then pro- 
ceeded to apply, and after four or five minutes the patient appeared to 
be asleep, and the operation was performed as above described. To 
the surprise of Dr. Warren and the other gentlemen present, the patient 
did not shrink nor cry out; but during the insulation of the veins he be- 
gan to move his limbs and utter extraordinary expressions. These move- 
ments seemed to indicate the existence of pain, but after he had recovered 
his faculties he said he had experienced none, but only a sensation like 
that of scraping the part with a blunt instrument, and he ever after con- 
tinued to say he had not felt any pain. The result of this operation led 
to the repetition of the use of ether in other cases, and in a few days its 
success was established, and its use resorted to in every considerable 
operation in the city of Boston ^nd its vicinity." 

By these operations, performed in a public hospital before professional 
men of the highest intelligence, and the perfect success of the ethereal 
vapor in annihilating all pain, its evident safety, and the readiness of 
recovery from the anccsthetic state, which resembled the waking from 
a deep and quiet sleep, a profound impression was made upon the public 
mind. In that of the surgical faculty it rose to enthusiasm. The suc- 
cess of the discovery was established; Boston, its native city, was proud 
of its maternity, and it was about to be hailed in Europe, whither a 
power swifter than the winds was wafting it, with wonder and applause. 

During all this time Dr. Morton alone claimed the discovery and 
conducted the experiments. ' He had staked 'every thing dear in life, his 
hopes of fortune and fame, upon the discovery. He gave his labor by 
day and his thoughts by night to the perfecting of all that was incom- 
plete in its application ; and in the language of the report of the Trus- 
tess of the Massachusetts General Hospital, "it is a mortifying fact that 
Dr. Morton's pecuniary affairs have become embarrassed in consequence 
of the interruption of his regular business, resulting from his efforts and 
experiments in establishing this great truth, and that his health has also 
severely suffered from the same cause, so that he can devote only a 
small part of each day to his professional labors. He became poor in a 
cause which has made the world his debtor. The committee have the 
highest medical authority (that of Dr. Homans) for saying that from 
living so much of late in an atmosphere of ether, and from the anxiety 
attendirig the various trials and experiments connected with the dis- 
covery, and from the excitement caused by the controversies which it has 
occasioned, the health of Dr, Morton has become such that he is unable 
to attend to his professional duties to any extent." And it was not until 
all was complete and completely verified, not until some time after the 
operation of the 2d of January, 1847, did any rival appear and publicly 
claim the discovery, or even a participation in it. 

Subsequent to that time, however, public claims to the whole honor 
of the discovery have been advanced and are now urged before your 
committee, by Dr. Charles T. .Tackson for himself, and lor Dr, Horace 
Wells, deceased, by his personal representatives. On both of these w^e 
have touched in our examination of the difScovery as connected with Dr. 
Morton, and we now propose to give to the claim of each a separate 

The first public appearance of Dr. Jackson at the hospital during the 
performance of an operation under the influence of the newly discovered 



anaesthetic agent, ic shown in the following extract from' a letter of Dr. 
S. D. Townsend, one of the surgeons of the hospital, dated January 2*jlh 

" Dr. Jackson presented himself for the first time on the 2d of January, 
1847, and brought with him a bag of oxygen gas as an antidote to 
asphyxia. I have had this date always fixed in n\y mind by the iact 
that 1 performed an amputation on that day under the influence of ether, 
and this is also confirmed by the records of the hospital." 

Dr. Jackson in a letter addressed by him to Baron Van Humboldt, 
dated November 22, 1851, a copy of which he filed with your commit- 
tee, in support of his claim to the discovery, after giving an account 
of the habitual use of the vapor of sulphuric ether for the purposes 
and in the manner which we have shown to have been familiar with 
the medical faculty, since about the year 1795, states the facts, 
and details the circumstances, which he alleges to have attended 
its inhalation by himself in the winter of 1841-42 ; and gives at length 
what he says were his deductions from the phenomena consequent on 
that inhalation. He says: 

"The circumstances were as follows: In the winter of 1841-42, 1 
was employed to give a few lectures before the Mechanic's Charitable 
Association in Boston, and in my last lecture, which I think was in the 
month of February, I had occasion to show a number of experiments in 
illustration of the theory of volcanic eruptions, and for my experiments 
I prepared a large quantity of chloraine gas, collecting it in gallon glass 
jars over boiling .water. Just as one of- these large jars was filled with 
pure chlorine, it overturned and broke, and in my endeavors to save the 
vessel, 1 accidentally got my lungs full of chlorine gas, which nearly 
suffocated me, so that my life was in imminent danger. I immediately 
had ether and ammonia brought to me, and alternately inhaled .them 
with great relief. The next morning my throat was severely inflamed 
and very painful, and I perceived a distinct flavor of chlorine in my breath, 
and my lungs were still much oppressed. I determined, therefore, to 
make a thorough trial of the ether vapor, and for that purpose went in- 
to my laboratory, which adjoins my house in Somerset street, and made 
the experiment from which the discovery of anaesthesia was induced. 
I had a large supply of perfectly pure washed sulphuric ether which 
was prepared in the laboratory of my friend Mr. John H. Blake of Bos- 
ton. I took a bottle of that ether and a folded towel, and seating m)'- 
self in a rocking chair, and placing my feet in another chair, so as to 
secure a fixed pcsition, as I reclined backward in the one in which I was 
seated. Soaking the towel in the ether, I placed it over my nose and 
mouth, so as to inhale the ether mixed with the air, and began to inhale 
the vapor deeply into my lungs. At first the ether made me cough, but 
soon that irritability ceased, and I noticed a sense of coolness followed 
by warmth, fulness of the head and chest, with giddiness and exhilitation, 
numbness of the feet and legs followed, a swimming or floating sensation, 
as if afloat in the air. This was accompanied with entire loss of feeling, 
even of contact with my chair in which I was seated. I noticed that 
all pain had ceased in my throat, and the sensations which I had were 
of the most agreeable kind. Much pleased and excited, I continued the 
inhalation of the ether vapor, and soon fell into a dreamy state, and 


then became unconscious of all surrounding things. I know not how 
lon<^ I remained in that state, but suppose that it could not be less than 
a quarter of an hour, judging from the degree of dryness of the cloth, 
which during the state of unconsciousness had fallen from my mouth 
and nose and lay upon my breast. As I became conscious, I observed ^ 
still there was nq feeling of pain in my throat, and my limbs were still 
deeply benumbed, as if tJw nerves of sensation were paralyzed. A strange 
thrilling now began to be felt along the spine, but it was not in any 
way disagreeable. Little by little sensation began to manifest itself, 
first in the throat and body, and gradually extended to the extremities, . 
but it was sometime before full sensation returned, and my throat be- 
came really painful. 

" Reflecting upon these phenomena, the idea flashed into my mind, that 
1 had made the discovert/ 1 had for so long a time been in guest of— a, means 
of rendering the nerves of sensation temporarily insensible to pain, so 
as to admit of the performance of a surgical operation on an individual 
without his suffering pain therefrom. That / did draw this infe.rerice, 
and did fully declare my unqualified belief in both the safety and. efficien- 
cy of the method of destroying all sensation of pain in the human body, 
during this most severe surgical operations, no one doubts, and it is fully 
proved by abundant legal evidence, which has never been impeached or 
doubted in any quarter." 

"1 beg leave to refer you again to the evidence of Dr. William F. 
Channing, a man of science. Fellow of the American Academy of Arts 
and Sciences, son of the late Dr. William E. Channing, our most emi- 
nent divine. To the testimony of Dr. S. A. Bemis, one of our most emi- 
nent dentists. To the letter of John H. Blake, a distinguished chemist; 
and to the testimony of Mr. Henry D. Fowle, one of the best and most 
faithful apothecaries of Boston, (and to the letters of Dr. George T. 
Dexter, of New York, and of D. Jay Browne, of New York, obtained 
since this paper was written.) Their evidence, with that of my worthy ■ 
friend and former pupil, Mr. Joseph Peabody, elive ingenium a Vecole des 
mines at Paris, prove that I had made this discovery, and long before 
any other person had even tried a single experiment of the kind. (See, 
also, the new and very important evidence of Dr. George T. Dexter, of 
New York, and that of Mr. D. J. Browne.) 

" In the rapid inductions of the mind it is not always easy to trace the 
exact method of thought by which we suddenly arrive at great truths. 
But so far as I can trace the reasoning that rapidly flowed through my 
mind, it was based upon principles well understood by all educated phy- 
sicians and physiologists. I knew that the nerves of sensation were 
distinct from that of motion and of organic life, and that one system 
might be paralyzed without necessarily or immediately affecting the 
others. I had seen often in my medical practice the nerves of sensation 
paralyzed without those of motion being affected, and those of motion 
paralyzed without those of sensation being influenced; and both the 
nerves of motion and sensation paralyzed without the ganglionic nerves 
or those of organic life being affected. I knew, also, that the nerves of 
sensation are stationed as sentinels near the exterior of our bodies, to 
warn us of danger from external causes of injury, and that there is no 
feeling in the internal portions of our bodies. I knew, also, that when 
the knife is applied in surgical operations, that there is little sense of 


pain in any p&,rtf3 beneatli the skin. This, my own surgical experience, 
as well as that of others, had long ago demonstrated, and the philosophy 
of those physiological facts was made known to the medical world, in 
England and in this country, by the researches of Sir Charles Bell,' of 
England, and was fully proved by all the eminent anatomists and phy- 
siologists of Europe. Now, I had observed, 1st. That the nerves of sen- 
sation in my own body were rendered insensible to pain for some time 
before unconsciousness took place. 

"2d. That all pain had ceased in a suffering part of my body during 
the stages of etherization preceding and following the unconscious state. 

" 3d. That this state of insensibility of the nerves of sensation continued 
for a sufficient length of time to admit of most surgical operations, and 
I had reason to believe that during the unconscious period the degree of 
insensibility was still greater, so that it would be impossible that any 
pain could be felt in a surgical operation. 

"4th. That the nerves of motion and of the involuntary functions of 
respiration and circulation were in no wise affected ; the functions of 
life going on as usual, while the nerves of sensation were rendered de- 
void of feeling, and the body could suffer no pain. By long experience 
in the trial of ether vapor in spasmodic asthma, and from numerous 
carefully conducted physiological experiments, I had learned that the 
vapor of ether could be safely inhaled into the lungs to an extent before 
believed to be highly dangerous. (Wood and Bache's Dispensatory; 
Beck's Medical Jurisprudence.) That I did first discover that the nerves 
of sensation could be and were paralyzed to all sensation temporarily and 
safely by the inhalation of ether vapor, is admitted by all scientific men 
who have examined the evidence. That / did first prescribe its adminis- 
tration for the purpose of preventing all sensation of pain in surgical ope- 
rations, with the guarantee on my medical and scientific responsibility, of 
its entire safety, if ray directions were strictly obeyed, and did thus in- 
troduce the use of pure sulphuric ether mixed with air, into surgical prac- 
tice, is fully proved by abundant testimony, and this is admitted by all 
persons who have examined the evidence that I have caused to be printed. 

" The only point contested by my opponents is, that in their opinion I 
had not sufficient reason for drawing the inference that I did, as they ad- 
mit, draw from my data, and that I could not have "known" the full ex- 
tent of the insensibility to pain of a surgical operation, and that this 
remained to be verified by actural trial. Now, it appears to me clear 
enough that when I had discovered that the nerves of sensation were 
paralyzed, that I did know that the body could feel no pain, and that 
my induction was the most natural thing in the process of reasoning 
from my well ascertained data. To the ignorant it is easy to appeal by 
allegations, like those of my very unscientific opponents, that 'Dr. Jack- 
son could not have known,' anterior to the verification experiments per- 
formed at the hospital, that the patient was wholly insensible to pain 
when under the influence of ether; but no scientific physiologist or phy- 
sician can possibly entertain a doubt of the sufficiency of my evidence, 
that the body could feel no pain when the nerves of sensation were ren- 
dered insensible. Again, it is claimed by my opponents, that inducing 
an ignorant dentist, a man of no medical knowledge, to perform the 
mere mechanical operations, under my advice and upon my medical re- 
sponsibility, expressly assumed before witnesses, that I made him a co- 


partner, or joint discoverer, and that he made the first application of my 
discovery. Now I respectfully dissent from this opinion, and, in my dis- 
sent 1 am sustained by the highest scientific medical and legal author- 
ities' of this country, and by the most eminent men of science of Europe, 
who have considered this question. 1 claim that I not only discovered 
the principle, but also by my advice and prescriplion,^as above stated, 
made the applicalion in the'highest sense of the term." 

Your committe will attempt to determine the weight which ought to 
be given to this statement : first, by collating it witli other facts, in the 
case of which they can have no doubt; second, by comparing it with 
other written statements of the same incident, made by Dr. Jackson 
himself of an earlier date ; third, by considering its inherent probability ' 
when viewed in connexion with Dr. Jackson's own well-established acts 
and omissions ; and, lastly, the extent to which it is supported or assailed 
by extrinsic evidence. 

A portion of this statement of Dr. Jackson struck your committee 
with some surprise, that, namely, in which he says: "That / did first 
prescribe its administration for the purpose of preventing all sensation of 
pain in surgical operations, loith the guarantee my medical and scientific 
responsihily, of its entire safety, if my instructions were strictly obeyed, 
and did then introduce the use of pure sulphuric ether vapor, mixed with 
air, into surgical practice, is fully proved by abundant testimony, and this 
is admitted by all persons who have examined the evidence that I have 
caused to be printed. The only point contested by my opponents is, that, 
in their opinion, I had not sufficient reason for drawing the inference that 
I did, as tliey admit, draw from my rfaia, and that I could not have ^known^ 
the full extent of the insensibility to pain of a surgical operation, and' 
that this remained to be verified by actual trial." 

This is, within the knowledge of your committee, a wide departure 
from the actual state of fact touching the controversy. It is known to 
us by numerous documents, printed and written, that the positions which 
Dr. Jackson thus avers to have been universally conceded to him, are 
the very positions which have been most constantly and strongly con- 
tested since he first claimed for himself the merits of the discovery. It 
appears too, that neither of these points was conceded to him, but both 
adjudged against him by the Massachusetts General Hospital in their 
report of January, 1848, and most distinctly and emphatically so by the 
report of the committee of this house of February 24, 1849. 

The hospital report notices this subject as follows : 

"Down to September 30, 1846, Dr. Jackson had discovered nothing 
that had not been known and in print in London for some years. It 
was known, that ether would produce insensibility ; that such insensi- 
bility, though sometimes fatal, was sometimes safe ; and that one of 
the properties of ether was its power to obviate the ill eftects of an in- 
halation of chlorine gas. The discovery of the safety and efficacy of 
the inhalation of ether in surgical operations had not yet been made ; 
the only experiments which Dr. Jackson had tried, or caused to be tried, 
being those already prescribed by the text-books. Dr. Jackson had for 
some time entertained a strong impression that could it be used with safe- 
ty and efi^ect during the operations of the dentist — a con jecture which 
a hundred other persons may have made without discovering the fact ; 


• and incidentally on more than one occasion, he had advised its use for 
that class of operations, but had been unable to persuade any one to 
use it, not even persons of science and intelligence, who were most 
familiar with all that Dr. Jackson knew or thought upon this subject. 

" Dr. Morton had for some time been engaged in searching for a safe 
agent for promoting insensibility during dental operations. He knew • 
of, and had, upon one occasston, taken part in, the nitrous-oxide experi- 
ments of Dr. Wells. 

"As early as Julj^, 1846, he purchased sulphuric ether, and proceeded 
to experiment upon it. On September 30, 1846, he has an interview 
with Dr. Jackson, and receives his decided advice to use pure rectified 
sulphuric ether during a dental operation, accompanied with the strong- 
est assurances of its safety, and with the information where it could be 
obtained. Dr. Morton, unlike others who had received this advice, and 
notwithstanding he knew the prevailing belief of the dangerous and 
sometimes fatal character of this agent, forthwith acted upon it. 
That he proceeded to inhale it himself, rests, indeed, on his own asser- 
tion. The committee have no doubt of its truth. He certainly admin- 
istered it to a patient. By so doiri^, he made this discovenj. On learn- 
ing this result, Dr. Jackson very naturally suggested to Dr. Morton that 
he had better get the ether tried by the surgeons of the hospital, which 
a witness of Dr. Morton's, however, alleges that he had previously de- 
termined to do. But all the subsequent steps were taken by Dr. Mor- 
ton himself, without the slightest sympathy or co-operation on the part 
of Dr. Jackson, who, from alleged fear of his recklessness, withheld 
from him all countenance and encouragement. In view of these facts, 
the committee are of opinion, that the exclusive claims advanced by Dr. 
Jackson, though now very extensively recognized in foreign countries, 
are unfounded, being unwarranted alike by his acts and by his omis- 
sions ; and that they involve great injustice towards Dr. Morton ; that 
their names will be forever jointly, though not equally, associated in 
this discovery; Dr. Jackson being entitled to the credit of having ren- 
dered readily available the existing knowledge upon the subject of ether, 
which Dr. Morton was really, though not avowedly, seeking to obtain ; 
and Dr. Morton ^laving. first demonstrated its safety and eflicacy in the 
prevention of pain during surgical operations ; and that Dr. Morton, by 
consenting to permit Dr. Jackson's name to be united, with his in the 
patent, with the right to receive one-tenth part of its profits, has shown 
himself disposed, fairly and honorably, to recognize the amount of his 
indebtedness to Dr. J'ackson's advice." 

In the report of the committee of the House in February, 1849, where 
these questions are carefully examined, the conclusion is against the 
claim of Dr. Jackson on both these points ; they say : 

" It is, however, contended by Dr. Jackson, that in the administration of 
ether to his patient on the 30th September, and in the subsequent exhi- 
bition of it in the hospital, Dr. Morton acted as his agent merely ; that 
he was in fact the experimenter as well as the discoverer, and the merit 
of success or the responsibility of failure rested on him. This position 
your committee will now proceed to examine. 

"This claim is not supported by the evidence which has been thus far 
considered ; indeed, it bears strongly against it, and your committee can 


find no contemporary matter touching this point, except a statement of 
George 0. Barnes, not yet commented upon. The witness, after stating 
Dr. Jackson's eflbrts to overcome the scruples of Morton, says : 'Indeed, 
Dr. Jackson urged the matter very earnestly and with perfect confi- 
dence, taking on himself the whole responsibility.' Now, if this be a 
deduction, an inference from the conversation stated, it is of no value 
whatever, except to show a certain earnestness in the witness. If it be 
but a further declaration, it is unsupported by the testimony of Mclntire; 
and, in a third important particular, diflers from and goes beyond him. 
But'the well attested conduct of the parties themselves, at the time of 
the transaction in which this agency is claimed to have been conferred 
and accepted, what is termed by lawyers the res gestcB, shows more 
clearly than everything else the true relation which they then bore to 
each other, and each of them to the subject matter in controversy. 

" Dr. Jackson claims that he had long had in his mind a conviction that 
the vapor of sulphuric ether could be inhaled without danger or injury 
to the patient, and that under its influence surgical operations could be 
performed without pain. All admit hiin to be a man of science, fully 
aware of the mighty value of such a discovery, and not at all indifferent 
to his own reputation in the scientific world. In this state of things we 
cannot conceive it possible that he could have remained inactive for 
years, waiting till chance should send him some one to bring out his 
great discovery, instead of proceeding himself by direct experiment. It 
is not at all disputed that Dr. Morton went to Dr. Jackson's shop that 
day uninvited; that his wants and not Di". Jackson's wishes and purpo- 
ses led to the conversation ; that there was nothing of an especially 
confidential nature between them ; and that what Dr. Jackson said to 
him, he said in the usual manner of public conversation, and not like a 
man who was engaging another to bring out a most important discovery 
to the world. 

" But take Dr. Morton to be just what Dr. Jackson and his two witnes- 
ses represent him to have been at the time of that conversation, was he 
the man whom Dr. Jackson would have trusted to represent him in a 
matter so deeply involving his character and his fame? Say it is Jack- 
son's discovery, the experiment is his, he is responsible for the conse- 
quences. If it succeed, he has made the noblest contribution to surgical 
science which the century has witnessed ; if it fail, the consequences 
might be most disastrous. Whom does he select to carry out this, the 
most important conception of his life or of the age ? Let his two wit- 
nesses answer. 

"According to them, a man profoundly ignorant of the powerful medi- 
cinal agent which he was directed to employ, one who did not know 
what kind of "stuff"" sulphuric ether was, and who wished to see it in 
order thus to test its qualities, is selected by one of the first scientific 
men of the age to conduct a delicate and dangerous experiment with 
this same sulphuric ether, on the success of which even more than repu- 
tation depended. If Dr. Jackson had dwelt upon the subject, conceived 
the discovery in his own mind, considered it with a view of making it 
known to the world and useful to mankind, he knew that much depend- 
ed on the first public exhibition ; and he also knew that it required sci- 
ence, prudence, and skill, to render the experiment successful, and pre- 
cnt Us becoming disastrous. Sulphuric other would produce insensi- 


bility to pain ; too little of it would make the experiment inefFectual, and 

death. Under these circumstances, how can your committee believe 
that Dr. Jackson would have trusted such a man as his witnesses rep- 
resent Dr. Morton to be, with his first experiment upon his great disco- 
very? Would it not have been inexcusable in him to have done so ? 
Would it not have shown a recklessness of his own fame and the lives 
of his fellow-men ? 

" Such a conclusion, your committee are satisfied, cannot be imputed to 
him with justice. Had Dr._ Jackson made the discovery and felt that it 
was his, could he have failed to be at oace aware of its vast importance, 
and the world-wide reputation it would give him, would he have trusted 
it for a moment in the hands of a man less skillful and scientific than 
himself? indeed, would he have entrusted it with any one? but' would 
he not have himself seen that it was administered in a proper manner, 
and under proper conditions to make it safe and effectual ? Would he 
not have stood by and watched the sinking pulse of his first subject, un- 
til insensibility was complete, and have been careful to withdraw it 
when he saw it was likely to endanger life, and thus done all that sci- 
ence and skill could do to avoid a failure or a catastrophe? But there 
was nothing of this. Having given the information which he did give 
in the conversation with Dr. Morton, he turned neither to the right nor 
left, nor troubled himself further on the subject, until he was advised by 
Dr. Morton that the experiment had been successful. He expresses no 
surprise, no emotion ; it is an incident of the day — an occurrence. Ac- 
Qording to the testimony of Barnes, he advises Dr. Morton to try it in 
some capital operation in the hospital; does not say he will try it him- 
self, which he might or ought to have done, if Morton had been his 
agent. He does not propose to get permission for Dr. Morton so to try 
it ; though he well knew ,the application by himself, or in his name, 
would ensure the permission. He advises Dr. Morton to get permission, 
and try it in the hospital, and does#not propose to be present, and in fact 
is not present when the trial is made, though the hospital was but five 
minutes' walk from his door. That operation was successfully perform- 
ed, and another was noticed to take place the next da}'^, about which Dr. 
Jackson gave himself no concern, and at which he was not present. 
The committee feel that his conduct during this time was wholly incon- 
sistent with the fact that he recognised the discovery as his own, and 
that these were his experiments. 

"It is urged as a reason for his absence at the first operation in the 
hospital, that Dr. Morton did not imform him at what time it was to 
take place. As to this, there is no proof that he did or did not inform 
him ; but surely, had Dr. Jackson felt the solicitude which the discoverer 
would naturally feel, he would have informed himself, and his daily as- 
sociations naturally led him to the knowledge. On the other hand, after 
the successful operation of the 30th of September, and after Dr. Morton 
had seen hi.s patient and ascertained that he had suffered no injury from 
the ether — elated with his success, he consulted Dr. Hayden as to the 
mode of bringing out the discovery, and suggested at once that he would 
introduce it into the hospital. A few days afterwards he told Dr. Hay- 
den that Dr. Jackson \yould not countenance the discovery, and again 


said he would go to Dr. Warren and endeavor to have it introduced into 
the hospital. The fact that Dr. Jackson refused to give Dr. Morton a 
certificate that ether was harmless in its effects, or might be used with 
safety, is admitted by Dr. .Tackson in his defence by the Messrs. Lord; 
but they say it proves nothing but Dr. Jackson's "unwillingness to fig- 
ure in Dr. Morton's advertisements, and his prudence in refusing to make 
himself resj)onsihle for unytMng and everything Morton, in his ignorance, 
misht do, loith on agent liable to the most dangerous abuse." 

" This, if it stood alone, might be satisfactory ; but one of the witnesses, 
Geo. O. [Jarnes, says that, on the 30th of September, Dr. Jackson em- 
ployed Dr. Morton to use this very agent. • He assured him it would 
" not do the least injurtj:'' He " urged the matter very earnestly, express- 
ly taking on himself all the responsibility;" and it was on the 1st of Oc- 
tober, the morning after the successful experiment, that Dr. Jackson re- 
fused to give a certificate " that et her was harmless in its effects," and 
yet, on this same day, the witness Barnes says, on being advised by Dr. 
Morton of the success of the operation. Dr. Jackson said to him : "You 
must go to Dr. Warren and get his permission to administer it in the 
Massachusetts General Hospital, and if possible, it should be on a capi- 
tal operation." And he goes on to say that Morton strongly objected at 
first to going <o the hospital ; that everybody would smell the ether, and 
it would not be kept secret ; but that, after learning something to dis- 
guise the odor, he agreed to apply to the hospital. 

"We have already adverted to the fact that Dr. Morton, the very 
evening after the successful of)eration, suggested to Dr. Hayden that 
he would go to the hospital and get permission to try the ether there ; 
that he went' next morning to Dr. Jackson, and returned, saying Dr.' 
Jackson would not give his countenance to the discovery, and it is ad- 
mitted that Dr. Jackson refused him the certificate he wished foi', and 
one of the reasons given is that he did not think him fit to be trusted. 
Is it then probable that he urged him to go to the hospital and there 
bring out his (Dr. Jackson's) great discovery? But James Mclntire 
was also present on the 1st of October^ when Dr. Morton returned and 
advised Dr. Jackson of the entire success of the experiment, and he 
says not a word of Dr. Jackson's proposing to Dr. Morton to try an ex- 
periment in the hospital. Your committee has already remarked in 
several other points of difl'erence in the testimony of these two witnesses, 
and in each cai^e as in this, they felt themselves constrained by the testi- 
mony of other witnesses and by the inherent character of the evidence 
to rely on the accuracy of Mclntire rather than of Mr. Barnes, where 
these discrepancies occur. 

"Another difliculty in sustaining the position assufned by Dr. Jackson 
forcibly impresses itself upon your committee. According to this, ou 
the 30th of September, Dr. Jackson entrusted Dr. Morton with his dis- 
covery, and n^t only suiTered him, but ' earnestly urged' him to use it 
assuring him it was perfectly safe ; Dr. Morton tried it on the same 
evening; his success was complete; he brought to Dr. Jackson the next 
morning conclusive evidence of all this, and Dr. Jackson refused him a 
certificate because he would not 'make himself responsible for anything 
and everything Morton in his ignorance might do with an agent liable 
to the most dangerous abuse,' while nothing is shown to shake Dr. 
Jackson's confidence in Dr. Morton since the previous day, or at all to 


change his opinion of him, except the triumphant success of the opera- 
tion wbich he reported and proved. On the 16th of October, the first 
operation was performed in the hospital, at which, as we have already- 
shown, Dr. Jackson did_, not attend, and at which his name was not 
known. The second operation at the hospital took place on the 17th 
Dr. Jackson taking no part in it by his presence or his counsel. Both 
operations were entirely successful, and both conducted on the part of 
Dr. Morton to the entire satisfaction of the surgeons of the hospital. 
But at this time Dr. Jackson's confidence in Dr. Morton, if he ever did 
confide in him, is wholly gone. He denies in the conversation with his 
neighbor and friend, Caleb Eddy, that under the influence of ether the 
flesh of a patient can be cut without pain ; says Morton "is a reckless 
man for using it as he has; the chance is he will kill somebody yet ;" 
and in the interval between the 30th of September and about the 23d 
of October, he declared that he did not care what Morton did with it, or 
or how much Morton advertised, if his own name was not drawn in 
with it. 

"It would seem that as Dr. Morton acquired eclat by his constant suc- 
cess, as he continually and rapidly rose in the estimation of other scien- 
tific men, he as continually and as rapidly sunk in the estimation of Dr. 
Jackson. The evidence of Francis Whitman, Mr. Caleb Eddy, and Hon. 
Edward Warren, show that, prior and up to the 23d October, Dr. Jack- 
son spoke doubtingly of the effect of ether, and condemned its use ; and 
there is no proof whatever that, within that time he lent the slightest 
countenance to Dr. Morton to sustain the discovery, smd all his remarks, 
except those stated by Mr. Hitchcock to have been made to him on the 2d 
and 3d of October, tend to create distrust and destroy confidence both in the 
operator and the agent used. His favorable mention of it to Dr. Keep 
occurred after the 26th of October, the actual date not fixed, and was 
-accompanied with a strong general charge of ignorance and reckless- 
ness against Morton, w^ho was then in the full tide of successful experi- 
ment. This state of facts is, in^the opinion of your committee, wholly 
inconsistent with the assumption that Dr. Jackson was the discoverer ; 
that he had employed Dr. Morton to bring out the discover}'; and that 
the experiments of Morton were tried on the responsibility of Dr. Jack- 
son." ^ I ' 

The error into which Dr. Jackson has fallen, as to the extent of the 
concessions which have been made him hi/ all who have examined the 
evidence, is somewhat remarkable, in view of the reasoning and conclu- 
sions of these two very able reports upon the distinct points which he 
claims to have been universally conceded. While neither of them finds 
it nececessary to approach or touch, what he avers to be "the only points 
contested by" his "opponents," namely: to use his own words "That I 
had not a sufficient reason for drawing the inference that I did, as they 
admit, draw from my data.'' "And again, that by inducTng an ignorant 
dentist, a man of no medical knowledge, to perform the mere mechanical 
operations made by my advice, and upon my medical responsibility, ex- 
pressly assumed before witnesses, that I made him a co-partner, or joint 
discoverer, and that he made the first application of my discovery." 

Your committee have looked in vain through all the papers before 
them, and find no such admission ; nor do they find the controversy any- 
where to turn upon what Dr. Jackson, in this paper avers to be the "only 


points conlestedr On the contrary they find it denied, and to have been 
all along denied, that Dr. Jackson drew the alleged inference, or in any 
other manner made the discovery ; or that he employed or engaged Dr. 
Morton to administer the ether vapor, on his. Dr. .Jackson's responsibility. 
These are the questions which your committee find to be the (/ucsfions in 
issue, and which have been, from the first claim made by Dr. Jackson, 
in issue. This erroneous statement some what weakens the credit of 
the paper for accuracy, but is to be regretted only in so far as it may 
tend to mislead the distinguished apostle of science in a foreign land, 
to whom it was directed. 

Dr. Jackson's first claim to the discovery -which appears on paper, is 
in a letter addressed to M.Elie de Beaumont, dated Boston, 13lh Novem- 
ber, 1846, which was opened and read to the Academy of Arts and Sci- 
ences at Paris, at their meeting, 18th January, 1847. It is thus introduced: 

"M. Elie de Beaumont requested the opening of a sealed packet which 
had been deposited at the meeting of 28th of December, 1846, and which 
contained two letters from. Mr. Jackson, of which the following are ex- 
tracts: first letter — 

"'Boston, I3th November, 1846. 

"'I request permission to communicate through your medium, to the 
Academy of Sciences, a discovery which I have made, and which I believe 
important for the relief of suffering humanity, as well as of great value to 
the surgical profession. Five or six years ago 1 noticed the peculiar state 
of insensibility into which the nervous system is thrown by the inhala- 
tion of the vapor of pure sulphuric ether, which I respired abundantly : 
first by way of experiments, and afterwards when I had a severe catarrh, 
caused by the inhalation of chlorine gas. I have latterly made a useful 
application of this fact, by persuading a dentist of this city to adminis- 
ter the vapor of ether to his patients, when about to undergo the opera- 
tion of extraction of teeth. It was observed that persons suffered no 
pain in the operation, and that no inconvenience resulted from the ad- 
ministration of the vapor.' " 

In a second letter of December 1st, 1846, Dr. Jackson authorizes the 
opening of the above letter. The following is an extract from it, and 
the explanatory remarks of M. Velpeau : second letter — 

" 1st December, 1846. 

"The advantage of the appreciation of the vapor of ether has been 
completely established in this country, and the agent has been used with 
great success at the Massachusetts General Hospital." 

On this poipt Mr. Velpeau made the following remarks : 

"The secret contained in the note which has been read is no longer 
a secret; the medical journals published in America and England have 
divulged it in the months of November and December. A letter from 
Dr. Warren, of Boston, communicated the information to me more than 
one month ago ; and Dr. Willis Fisher, of the same city, proposed that 
I should try its effects at La Charit6 towards the middle of last De- 


The present object of quoting these letters is to show the account 
which Dr. Jackson then gave of his experiment in 1841-42. It, in 
truth, goes no further than prior experiments had made familiar to the 
medical faculty. The Edinburg Medical Journal of April 1st, 1847, 
speaking of if, says : 

" In the administration of ether vapor there is, therefore, nothing new. 
Its narcotic and anodyne effects have been long well known to experi- 
enced and well-informed observers. The application of ether vapor, 
neverthless, as an anodyne previous to surgical operations, suggested a 
mode of exhibition which, besides being new, has the merit of being 
more efficient than the methods in ordinary cases." 

Dr. Jackson's trial in ] 841-42, as stated by him in the above letter, 
was a mere application of its well-known narcotic and anodyne proper- 
ties. In a paper published by Dr. Jackson in the Boston Daily Adver- 
tiser of March 1st, 1847, he adds to the statement in his letter to M. Elie 
de Beaumont but one distinct fact — relief from the pain of his catarrh 
during the eflect of the inhalation of the vapor of sulphuric ether, and 
its return presently afterwards. The same fact is stated as having oc- 
curred in Dr. Thornton's practice, first published in 1795-'9G. 

In a letter written by Dr. Jackson to Dr. Martin Gay, dated May 1, 
1847, be professes to give an account of his "experiments and observa- 
tions made several years ago on the inhalation of the vapor of pure sul- 
phuric ether." He states his experiments as follows: The first : 

"I moistened a cloth and laid it over my mouth and nostrils, and laid 
myself back in a rocking chair, and inhaled the vapor, noticing its ef- 
fects on the system. The first impression was that of coolness, then a 
sensation of warmth and exhilaration, with a singular feeling of excite- 
ment in the chest. This was followed by a loss of consciousness, from 
which I in a short time awoke ; soon afterwards I entirely recovered 
from the effects of the ether." 

The second : 

" Afterwards, still suffering from the effects of the chlorine, I thought 
I would try the ether vapor again, and for a longer time. I went, there- 
fore, into my office, which is connected with my house, and taking the 
bottle of pure sulphuric ether from the laboratory, I soaked a folded 
cloth in it, squeezed it out slightly, and seating myself in a rocking chair, 
with my feet resting upon another chair, I commenced inhaling the ether 
from the cloth, which was placed over my mouth and nostrils, while my 
head was laid back against my chair, so that I was quite at ease in a 
fixed position. The effects of the inhalation Avere as before described, 
excepting that it made me cough at first. I was, therefore, led to be- 
lieve that the paral3rsis of the nerves of sensation would be so great, 
during the continuance of the insensibility, that a surgical operation 
might be performed upon a patient under its influence, without giving 
him any pain ; for the loss of consciousness was remarkable, perhaps re- 
sembling that of epilepsy more than any other kind of insensibility." 

On the 18th of May, 1848, something more than a year afterwards, 
the contest about the discovery all the time going sharply on, and new- 
facts daily developing themselves in the use and effects of sulphuric 
ether. Dr. Jackson addressed a letter to Joseph Hale Abbott, Esq., giving, 


as he says, "a more minute statement, than I have heretofore published, 
of the effects produced upon me by sulphuric ether, when I inhaled it 
for relief from the distress occasioned by the inhalation of chlorine in 
tJie winter of 1841-2. And, also, a statement of the precise ground, 
which I have never published, of the idea then conceived by me that 
pure sulphuric ether could be used with safety and success to prevent 
pain in surgical operations. I will add that in my published letter 
to Dr. Gay, I neglected, through inadvertence, to state one of my prin- 
cipal reasons ; which, as will be seen by his pamphlet, I had mentioned 
to him, in conversation, for the inference I drew from my observations. 
The experiment referred to above, in the course of which I observed 
that sulphuric ether produced insensibility to pain, was as follows: 
Having taken a bottle of pure sulphuric ether from my laboratory, I went 
into my office, soaked a folded clotli with it, squeezed it out slightly, and 
seated myself in a rocking chair. Having laid my head back against 
the rocking chair, with my feet supported by another, so as to give me a 
fixed position, I placed the cloth over my mouth and nostrils and com- 
menced inhaling the ether. The effects perceived by me were at first a 
little coughing, a sensation of coldness, then ^\»armth and fullness of the 
head and chest, exhiliration and giddiness, numbness and want of feeling 
in the feet and legs, a swimming sensation as if I had been afloat in 
the air, together with a loss of all feeling of the rocking chair in which 
I was seated — loss of all sensation of pain in the throat and chest — a 
state of reverie, and soon entire unconsciousness, for a space of time 
unknown to me. Recovering, I felt a sense of giddiness, but with no 
desire to move — found the cloth I had moistened with ether had dropped 
from my mouth — had no feeling of pain in the throat and chest, but be- 
gan to feel a strange thrilling in the body. In a short time, I felt the 
soreness in the throat gradually returning, and the distress in the chest 
also, though much less than it had been before. From the cessation of 
all pain, and the loss of all feeling of external objects, a little while he- 
fore and after the loss of entire consciousness, I was led to infer that the 
paralysis of the nerves of sensation would be so great during the con- 
tinuance of the unconsciousness and the total loss of feelitig, that a sur- 
gical operation could be performed upon a patient, under the influence 
of ether, without giving him any pain ; and, therefore, I prescribed it, 
with entire confidence in the result." 

Next follov/s, on the 18th of December, 1851, the narrative to Baron 
Von Humboldt, above set forth, but to which your committee think 
proper to refer again, specially, in this connexion. After stating the 
accidental inhalation- of chlorine gas, and the means used to destroy its 
effects, he says: "The next morning my throat was severely inflamed, 
and very painful, and I perceived a distinct flavor of chlorine in my breath, 
and my lungs were still much oppressed. I determined, therefore, to 
make a thorough trial of the ether vapor, and for that purpose went into 
my laboratory, jwhich adjoins my house in Somerest street, and made 
the experiment from which the discovery of anaesthesia was induced. I 
had a large supply of perfectly pure washed sulphuric ether, which was 
prepared in the laboratory of my friend, Mr. John H. Blake, of Bostpn. 
I took a bottle of that ether and a folded towel, and seating myself in a 
rocking chair, and placing my feet in another chair, so as to secure a 
fixed position, as I reclined backward in the one in which I was seated. 



Soaldng the towel in the ethev, I placed it over my nose and mouth, so 
as to inhale the ether mixed with the air, and began to inhale the vapor 
deeply into my lungs. 'At first the ether made me cough, but soon that 
irratibility ceased, and I noticed a sense of coolness, followed by vi^armth, 
fulness of the head and chest, with giddiness and exhiliration ; numbness 
of the feet and legs followed ; a swimming or floating sensation, as if 
afloat in the air. This was accompanied with entire loss of feeling, 
even of contact with the. chair in which I was seated. I noticed that 
diW pain had ceased in mij tJiroat, and the sensations which 1 had were of 
the most agreeable kind. Much pleased and excited I continued the 
inhalation of the ether vapor, and soon fell into a dreamy state, and 
then became unconscious of all surrounding things. I know not how 
long I remained in that slate, but suppose that it could not be less than 
a quarter of an hour, judging from the degree of dryness of the cloth, 
which during this state of unconsciousness had fallen from my mouth 
and nose, and lay upon my breast. As I became conscious I observed 
still there was no feeling of pain in my throat, and my limbs were still 
deeply benumed, as if the nerves of sensation were fully paralyzed. A 
strange thrilling now beg^n to be felt along the spine, iDUt it was not 
in any way disagreeable. Little by little sensation beg:an to manifest 
itself, first i|i the,throat and body, and gradually extended to the ex- 
tremities, but it was some time before full sensation returned, and my 
throat became really painful. 

^ " Reflecting upon these phenomena, the idea flashed into my mind that 
7 had made the discovery I had so long a time bee.(i in. quest of, a means 
of rendering, the nerves of sensation temporarily insensible to pain, so 
as to admit of the performance of surgical operation on an individual 
without his suff"ering pain therefrom." 

These statements would have been entitled to much more weight in 
the estimation of your committee if all the facts alleged to have been 
observed, and conclusions drawn, in 1841-2, as stated in the letter to 
Baron Van Hambolt, of December 18, 1851. had appeared in the letter 
to Elie de Beaumont of November 13, 1846, or even in that to Dr. Gay 
of May 1, 1847; but such is by no means the case. Each successive 
letter states the case more strongly than the last preceding, and the 
facts superadded in the later letters are those which alone give nov- 
elty and importance to the experiment. 

In closing bis statement of the last and final experiment in 1841-2, in 
the part of the letter of December 18, 1851, to Baron Von Humboldt, last 
above set forth, Dr. Jackson says, " reflecting upon these phenomena, the 
idea flashed into my mind that / had made the discovery I had for so long 
a time been in quest of a means, &c." And he goes on to give formally 
and in detail the scientific deductions which he says were made^at the 
time, and which then led him to the conclusion. If that statement be 
true, the discovery at that time, so far as private experiment and philo- 
sophical deduction could go, was as full and complete as it was on the 
morning of October 1, 1846, after Dr. Morton's successful operation on 
Eben Frost. , 

Now, if Dr. Jackson, in the winter of 1841-2, did, in fact, make such 
discovery, and in earnestness, and in faith, and enthusiasm, was possess- 
ed with it, and with an animating desire to give it, and to give his name 
with it, to mankind, how happens it that no contemporary written paper 


or pen-mark, under the hand of Dr. Jaclcson, or some one of his nume- 
rous friends or pupils, remains to attest the discovery? No private 
memorandum of his own, detailing his experiments and his scientific de- 
ductions from them ; nothing, in case of sudden death, to connect his 
name with the discovery, and secure the discovery itself to the world? 

The paper above referred to of November 13, 1846, written after the 
discovery had been in fact made— after the first capital operation had 
been successfully performed under the superintendence of Dr. Morton, 
and after Dr. Jackson had nearly made up his mind to claim the discov- 
ery as his own, was enclosed to M. Elie de Beaumont, with directions 
to file it in the Academy of Arts and Sciences of Paris, but not to break 
the seal until thereto directed. This paper, its seal and its custody, 
show that Dr. Jackson knew how to save a secret and yet preserve the 
evidence of a discovery ; and it shows that he Avas not negligent or tardy, 
but hastened to take a formal contingent possession of this discovery in 
Europe before he witnessed, even as a spectator, a single operation 
under the influence of the new anajsthetic agent. It seems that he had 
not yet fully made up his mind to claim the discovery. He wanted fur- 
ther verification of the safety and efficacy of the anaesthetic agent be- 
fore he took the decisive step of announcing it as his own. He there- 
fore directed the letter making the claim to the discovery to be deposited, 
sealed, in the Academy of Arts and Sciences at Paris, not to be opened 
until he should direct. 

The success of the paiip-subduing agent from that day till the first 
of December, 1846, removed all doubt. The discovery was established. 
It already stood first in rank in the discoveries of the century, and fame, 
and honor, and rewards awaited the discoverer. Dr. Jackson, on that 
day and under these circumstances, wrote the letter last above copied, 
to M. Elie de Beaumont, directing him to open the sealed packet, and 
publish him, Dr. Jackson, to Europe, as the discoverer. 

Considering the man and the discovery; the inestimable value of the 
discovery ; the knowledge of the man, and his capacity to appreciate 
its value; his full application of it when satisfied that the discovery 
was in fact made, and his eager promptitude in then seizing and appro- 
priating to himself at least all that was his ; your committee cannot be- 
lieve it possible that he should have been for a longtime in earnest pur- 
suit of the discovery, that he should have made it and perfected it in 
1841-2 by experiment and deduction, that he should, for nearly five years 
have been in possession of it and with his full estimate of its value, and 
yet that he should not in its inception or progress record it, somevidiere, 
at some time, on something more fixed and reliable than mere frail, un- 
certain, and mutable memory. 

He knew well, if he thought on the subject at all, that but a thin veil 
separated the familiar and daily walks of the faculty from the spot 
where lay this hidden treasure. Did he not fear that some one would 
lift the veil ? He knew it was but a step, and that a short one, from 
what was well known to the discovery itself Did he not fear that some 
one would take that step and seize the prize which he could then so ea- 
sily secure to himself forever? If he made the discovery in 1841-2, and 
was not yet prepared to disclose it, there was reason then for placing 
in the archives of some European and some American academy a sealed 
paper, giving an account of the facts observed, and the deductions dra\vn 


at the time, that this much at least might be beyond the reach of rival- 
1-3^ and chance. But was there any just reason for this when he commit- 
ted the sealed letter above referred to to M. Elie de Beaumont ? The 
discovery was public and in public use in Boston for more than a month 
before that letter was written and sealed. The packet ship that car- 
ried that letter bore also the news of the discovery to Europe. What 
secret did this paper contain, that it must be kept under seal until the 
next arriyal from America? Nothing, surely, which was public in Bos- 
ton when the packet sailed; public also, oC course, on board of the ship, 
and which must be public over all Europe within twenty-four hours af- 
ter she should touch the Liverpool docks. 

The sealed letter contained but one single secret not known over the 
European and American world, before it reached the hands of M. Elie 
de Beaumont, namely: that Dr. Charles T. Jackson claimed the discov- 
ery as his. And why did he did not then avow it, and proclaim it, instead 
of requiring his claim to remain under the seal of secrecy till the next 
arrival? His letter of 1st December gives the reason. It advises M. 
Elie de Beaumont that the success of the newly discovered anfEsthetic 
agent is complete, and directs him to open, therefore, the sealed packet, 
and disclose its contents to the Academy. He did so ; and Dr. Jackson 
was forthwith in possession of the discovery in Europe. 

Until the first capital operation under the influence of the vapor of 
ether, which took place on the 7th of November, 1846, Dr. Jackson had 
evidently no fixed confidence in its success as an anaesthetic agent. Nor 
did this seem to satisfy him fully. Six days after this he sent his sealed 
statement to be deposited in the Academy at Paris, and not until many 
more successful operations had been performed under the superinten- 
dence of Dr. Morton, and until the last doubt of the incredulous was re- 
moved, did he "direct publication to be made of his claim to the discovery. 
It is not to be credited that he had already possessed this discovery for 
five years, and knew its value and felt the enthusiasm of the discoverer ; 
that he held it and believed in it and rejoiced in it for five years, and 
yet, that no word or line was ever written by him or any one of his nu- 
merous confidential friends to him, or for him, until the letter of Novem- 
ber 13th, 1846, hinting even darkly at his possession of the mighty prize. 
And the difficulty is greatly increased when these striking facts are 
considered in connexion with this letter, embodying the first written 
statement of Dr. Jackson's alleged discovery. The accounts there given 
of his alleged experiments in 1841-42, show no new discovery, but a 
mere repetition of a well-known prescription for its usual purpose, at- 
tended with effects also before that time well known. And the medi- 
cal journals from the other side of the Atlantic, which returned with a 
review of the discovery, show this fact, and comprise all the merits of 
the discovery in the successful application of the vapor of sulphuric 
ether as an ansesthetic agent in an actual surgical operation. These 
journals, with this criticism and judgment, had been in the hands of the 
American public more than a month before Dr. Jackson published his 
amended and extended statement of March 1st, 1847, and more than 
three years before his letter of 18th December, 1851, to Baron Von 
Humboldt, the statement in which, if it be believed, supplies all defi- 
ciencies except the want of a public experiment, or one at least made 
ia the presence of witnesses. But it is strange, if that statement be 


true, that 'Dr. Jackson, from 1841-'42, to September 30th, 184G, never 
applied that crowning test; that after he professed to have perfected 
the discovery by philosophical experiment and induction, he suffered it 
to sleep for five years, during which time he never made another expe- 
riment of any kind on himself or on another person, or even on a do- 
mestic animal • that, from first to last, he never made an experiment of 
any kind in presence of witnesses. Indeed, for several years prior to 
30th September, 1840, the use of sulphuric ether appears to have ceased 
in his laboratory, for- in his letter to Baron Von Humboldt, giving his 
version of the interview with Dr. Morton on that day, he says : 

"He (Morton) asked me to let him take the bottle of sulphuric ether 
which I had just shown him ; but since it had been standing in the labora- 
tory for SOME YEARS, / feared it might have become deteriorated. I therefore 
advised him to go to Mr. Burnett, one of our best apothecaries, and get 
some pure sulphuric ether." 


Dr. Jackson evidently feels that the long delaj^, from 1841-42 to 1846, 
in bringing out his alleged discovery, and the sudden and abrupt man- 
ner in which he professes to have placed it in the han^s of a man whom 
he stigmatizes as an "ignoramus" and a "quack" require explanation; 
and in his letter to Baron Von Humboldt, he gives the following : 

" It is obvious enough to those who know the circumstances, why I 
engaged an ignorant man to introduce my discovery. I had already, 
before Mr. Morton came to Boston and set up as a dentist, endeavored 
to engage more responsible persons to make trial of the ether in their 
practice, but they declined doing so, knowing that the medical and toxi- 
cological books declared it to be a dangerous experiment, while I insisted 
that it was not dangerous. They thought that in their medical capacity 
they would incur responsibility for any accidents that might happen to 
the patients, and hence feared to act." 

If Dr. Jackson made, in truth, this great discovery in the winter of 
1841-2, and was conscious of its truth and its v^alue, the above statement, 
in the opinion of your committee, falls far short of a sufficient explana- 
tion of the fact that he so long delayed announcing it to the world. Ac- 
cording to hin^, the discovery was complete as soon as he awoke from 
the state of unconsciousness into which he had been brought by in- 
haling the ether vapor. All was complete, except to bring it out by an 
actual experiment in the presence of th.e surgical faculty; as complete, 
so far as he was concerned, as it* was on the morning of the 30th of Sep- 
tember, 1846. Now, can it be believed, that during the more than four 
years that intervened between the time of the alleged discovery and the 
public experiments of Dr. Morton, no available means offered themselves 
to Dr. Jackson to test it, and disclose it, and prove it to the world? He 
says, "and it is well known that the vapor of sulphuric ether was some- 
times inhaled by the young men at college." Could he not, after this 
discovery, have been present, and after leading the way himself, have 
mduced Some of them to inhale it until it produced insensibility ? Could 
he not have himself inhaled it before his friends and associates of the 
hospital, and satisfied them of its safety by his speedy recovery, of its 
complete suspension of all sensibility to pain by usual tests with which 
he was familiar, or even something more decisive, as the actual cautery 


applied for an ii)stant to some sensitive part? Conviction would have 
followed a simple and safe exhibition like this, and his associates, mem- 
bers of the faculty of the hospital, would not have hesitated to further 
test the discovery by surgical operations. Indeed, we cannot suppose 
that they would have hesitated to do so at once on his mere statement 
of the- experiment upon himself, as given to Baron "Von ♦^lufnboldt, and 
his assurance that it produced ana3Sthesia, and was attended with no 
injurious e(fects. They did not hesitate to grant it to the representa- 
tions of Dr. Morton — a young man almost a stranger to the facultj'. 
Dr. Jackson, it seems, too, believed they would grant it tlius readily, for 
he says he directed and urged Dr. Morton to go and ask it, tu which he 
says Dr. M. reluctantly consented ; and Dr. .Tackson gave him no writ- 
ten paper, and spoke no kind word in his behalf to any of ihe faculty. 
With tne extraordinary facilities for bringing out sucH discovery, which 
Dr. Jackson had at his very door; with his own high scientific position, 
which enabled him fully to command them, your committee cannot be- 
lieve that he made the discovery, and was compelled by a kind of ne- 
cessity so long to withhold it from the world. Dr. Jaclvson shows no 
such necessity. Nor can your committee believe that he had the secret, 
and held it for any reason or from any motive, a buried talent for nearly 
five years; that he witnessed from tjme to time, during all that long 
period, the agony of the human frame under the tortures of the cautery, 
the scalpel, and the knife, and remained silent, while he had, and knew 
he had, sovereign power over pain, and could banish it instantly with a ' 

But Dr. Jackson, in his own conduct and bearing in reference 
to this discover}', and its verification and presentation before the public, 
from the 30th of September, 1846, down to the time that it was fully 
established, proves that he was not, and did not believe himself to be, 
the discoverer. Giving Dr. Jackson the full benefit of the favorable 
opinion which he entertained of Dr. Morton, before he had determined 
to become his competitor for the honor of the discovery, which appears 
by his certificate, namely, that he was a young man of marked energy 
and intelligence, and very creditable acquirements, in such branches of 
science as pertained to his profession, still it is not within the range of 
probability that Dr. Jackson, had he possessed the discovery, would 
have intrusted him or any one else to test its merits in the manner and 
under the circumstances in which he professed to have intrusted it. 

He unquestionably believed Dr. Morton ignorant of sulphuric ether, 
its properties, and its use, and supposed he had never thought of its ap- 
plication in the manner proposed. Surely he would not select a man, 
ignorant of the anaesthetic agent itself, to perform the delicate opera- 
ration of first testing its efficacy and saiisty. He knew how much de- 
pended on its first exliibition, and he also knew that it required science 
and skill to render the expel-iment successful, and to avoid danger and 
disaster. Sulphuric ether would produce insensibility to pain, too little 
of it would make the experiment ineffectual alul expose the operator 
to ridicule, too much, or the proper qua-ntity unskilfully administered, 
would produce asphyxia, perhaps death. Under these circumstances 
Dr. Jackson could not have trusted a young man, without medical 
knowledge, and without the knowledge of sulphuric ether, or its efiects, 
to conduct his first great experiment, and he himself think it not worth 


his while to be present. But, according to his own statement, he gave 
to Dr. Morton no sufficient instruction correspondent with the mighty 
mission on wliich he was sent. He gave all the instruction which he 
saw fit lo give in ten or fifteen minutes, he walking, and his pupil, ac- 
cording to his last statement, capering about the laboratory. He des- 
patched him, however, on his mission of mercy, to banish pain from the 
human race, and he himself quietly took his seat again in his labora- 
tory, and troubled himself no further about the result." 

Dr. Jackson, had he thought on the subject, knew well that the efl'ects 
of ether vapor would be different on-different persons, and even on the 
same person in difl^rent states of the system. Had he been about to 
bring out his own discovery, the crowning honor of his life, he would 
not only have attended in person to the* skilful administration of the 
anaesthetic agent, but he would have been especially careful in the se- 
lection of a subject. On the contrary, if this was his experiment, he 
directed its trial on the worst subject conceivable, a nervous and re- 
fractory patient who refused to siibmit to ^n operation. That was 
what Dr. Morton professed to have on hand, and in reference to which Dr. 
Jackson says he disclosed his discovery and gave directions I'or its appli- 
cation. The first operation was really performed on. a fortunate subject, 
such a one as Dr. Jackson might well have selected ; but he knew 
nothing of this, or of anything other and further than the refractory pa- 
tient. But Dr. Morton returned to Dr. Jackson's laboratory the next day, 
and reported the success of the experiment. Dr. Jackson, according to 
the testimony of Barnes, one of his witnesses, is quite unmoved, and ex- 
presses no surprise, but advises, and as Dr. Jackson himself says, urged 
Dr. Morion to go to Dr. Warren and get his permission to try it in a 
capital case at the hospital. Now, if Dr. Jackson were really the dis- 
coverer and had employed Dr. Morton to make the experiment /or liim, 
and as his agent, why did he send him, or advise or urge Mm to go to the 
hospital at all ? He refused him a written certificate that the anaes- 
thetic agent which he used was harmless, because, as his foriner counsel, 
the Messrs. Lords, said for him, of an " unwillingness to figure in Morton's 
adv^tisements, (mrZ prudence in refusing Lo rnahe himself responsi- 
ble for anythino; and everything Morton in his ignorance might do icith 
an agent so liable to the most dangerous abuse." How came he, then, to 
trust Dr. Morton with this agent? Why did he urge him to go with it to 
the hospital ? He says in his letter to Mr, Elie de Beaumont that the ex- 
periments in the hospital were his. He had his anaesthetic agent tested 
there in a capital experiment. He sent Dr. Morton to Dr. Warren to 
ask its admission in the hospital ; and yet refused Dr. Morton a written 
certificate of the safety of the agent because he would not "make him- 
self responsible.'" And who was responsible? We have no hesitation 
in saying that Dr. Jackson's claim to these experiments is unfounded, 
and his statements so far untrue, or he was guilty of bad faith towards 
Dr. Morton, and especially toward the faculty of the hospital. 

But the question recurs, v^'hy did he urge Dr. Morton to go to the hos- 
pital at all ? He does not pretend to have employed him as his sole and 
only agenl^to bring out his discovery. On the "contrary, according to 
the statement of Barnes, his witness. Dr. Jackson on the ist of October, 
when applied to by Dr. Morton to keep the discovery secret, replied 
"No I I will have no secrets with my professional brethren." He was 


under no obligations to Dr. Morton. Why did he send him to the hos- 
pital ? lie had trusted Dr. Morton in one case only ; if he did not think 
it worth his while to attend at the hospital himself and see in person to 
the administration of the anaesthetic agent in a capital case, he might 
have trusted it to some one of the learned surgeons of the hospital to 
whom he could in a few minutes time' have communicated all the in- 
formation which he gave to Dr. Morton'but the day before. He would 
then also have been free from all responsibility, which, though refused 
in writing, he says was assumed before witnesses, for what, in the lan- 
guage of Dr. Jackson's counsel, " Morton in his ignorance and rashness 
might do with an agent so liable to the most dangerous abuse" This 
would have been consistent. If he engaged a dentist to use his discov- 
ery when he should extract a 'tooth, would he not have engaged a sur- 
geon to use it when he should amputate a limb ? For what possible 
reason, if his statement be true, could he send the dentist, who was pro- 
foundly ignorant of his anaesthetic agent, to administer it in a capital 
surgical' operation among teamed and skilful men, and at the same time 
advise him how to disguise it so that they might not know what he 
was using? He was determined to have no secrets with his profession- 
al bretheren, and that he would tell them all that he had told Dr. Mor- 
ton ; yet he put Dr. Morton in possession of a convenient means of dis- 
guising the agent, and keeping secret the actual discovery. This was 
consistent and right if it were Dr. Morton's discovery ; but a self-con- 
tradiction on the instant, almost in the same breath, if it were his o%vn. 
It is clear to us, that at this time Dr. Jackson did not claim the discov- 
er}'', but held himself in such position that he might at any moment as- 
sert an interest in, or repudiate and condemn it. Sometimes the exper- 
iments of Dr. Morton were successful, and Dr. Jackson spoke well of 
the discovery to a few .special friends, as Mr. Hitchcock and Mr. Sum- 
ner. Sometimes the experiments were unfortunate, as in the case of the 
boy supposed to be poisoned, and Dr. Jackson doubted the success of the 
discovery, and censured Dr. Morton, as in his conversation with Caleb 
Eddy and Francis Whitman. 

"On the 16th of October," says the former committee, "the first ope- 
ration was performed in the hospital, at which, as we have already 
shown, Dr. Jackson did not attend, and at which his name was not 
known. The second operation at the hospital took place on the 17th, 
Dr. Jackson taking no part in it by his presence or his counsel. . Both 
operations were entirely successful, and both conducted on the part of 
Dr. Morton to the entire satisfaction of the surgeons of the hospital. 
But at this time Dr. Jackson's confidence in Dr. Morton, if he ever did 
confide in him, is wholly gone. He denies in the conversation with his 
neighbor and friend, Caleb Eddy, that under the influence of ether the 
flesh of a patient can be cut without pain ; says Morton ' is a reckless 
man for using it as he has ; the chance is he will kill somebody yet ;' 
and in the interval between the 30th of September and about the 23d 
of October, he declared that he did not care \vhat Morton did with it, or 
how much Morton advertised, if his own name was not drawn in with it. 

" It would seem that as Dr. Morton acquired eclat by his constant suc- 
cess, as he continually and rapidly rose in the estimation of other scien- 
tific men, he as continually and as rapidly sunk in the estimation of Dr. 
Jackson. The evidence of Francis Whitman and Mr. Caleb Eddy 


sliow that, prior and up to the 2Sd October, Dr. Jackson spoke doubt- 
ingly of the effect of ether, and condemned its use ; and there is nc 
proof whatever that, within that time, he lent the slightest countenance 
to Dr. Morton to sustain the discovery, and all his remarks, except those 
stated by Mr. Hitchcock to have been made to him on the 2d and 
3d of October, tend to create distrust and destroy confidence both in the 
operator and the agent used. His favorable mention of it to Dr. Keep 
occurred aftci- the 26th of October, the actual date not fixed, and was 
accompanied with a strong general charge of ignorance and reckless- 
ness against MorLon, who was then in the full tide of successful experi- 
ment. This state of facts is, in the opinion of your committee, wholly 
inconsistent with the assumption that D.r. Jackson was the discoverer; 
that he had employed Dr. Morton to bring out the discovery, and that 
the experiments of Morton were tried on the responsibility of Dr. Jack- 

" On the 30th of September, the first successful operation took place. 
On the 1st of October, Dr. Mort«n applied to R. H. Eddy, agent for 
patents, to aid him in procuring a patent for the discovery. Mr. Eddy 
took the case into consideration, and did not see Dr. Morton again until 
the 21st. la the mean time Dr. Morton's expei'iments had been attended 
with the most flattering success. Two operations had been performed 
in the hospital to the entire satisfaction of the faculty, and the discovery 
had acquired a footing in the medical w^orld ; and prior to the 21st, but 
the precise day is not stated, Dr. Jackson had a conversation with Mr. 
Edd}', was informed of the application of Dr. Morton for a patent, and 
claimed that he had some connexion with Dr. Morton in making the dis- 
covery. He called on Dr. Morton on the 23d, and it was then arranged 
that Dr. Jackson was to have $500 for the information he had given 
Dr. Morion, if ten per cent, on the proceeds of the patent would produce 
that amount. • 

"This arrangement between the parties, settled by and between.them- 
selves in a private conference, proved by their subsequent conversation 
with Mr. Eddy, and not now denied, shows conclusively the view that 
each had of his respective participation in the discovery. It was be- 
tween them both distinctly a business transaction — an affair of dollars 
and cents, and as clearly Dr. Jackson called and introduced the conver- 
sation—not to, assert his rights to the discovery — not to inquire as to its 
success, for of this public report had advised him — not to give any advice 
or caution as to its further use, but to claim a compensation in money 
for the advice and information he had given to Morton on the 30th of Sep- 
tember; and 8500, if ten per cent, on the proceeds of the patent would 
produce it, was agreed upon as the sum to be paid for that information. 
This conversation and agreement is entirely consistent with the view 
we have thus f\\r taken of the case, but it is wholly inexplicable on the 
ground assumed by Dr. Jackson." 

This agreement being concluded. Dr. Jackson went home, as he him- 
self admits and charged Dr. Morton $500 on his books for the informa- 
tion which he had given him. This is the first entry or pen mark made 
by Dr. Jackson with regard to this discovery which has come to the 
knowledge of your committee. It is true Dr. Jackson insists that the ar- 
rangement, m pursuance of which the entry was made, was obtained 
from hiin by the falsehood and isubtlety of Dr. Morton. The assertion 


is easily made, but of litUo value against the contradictory statement of 
Dr. Morton, and the whole sequence of facts going fully to sustain that 
statement. A written paper signed by Dr. .lackson on the 27tli of Oc- 
tober, 1846, sustauis the arrangement resulting in the entry by Dr. Jack- 
son ; but this, also, he attempts to invalidate on the alleged ground, 
that it was altered without his knowledge or consent by Mr. Eddy, the 
Patent Solicitor, after he had agreed to sign it, and before he signed it, 
and that thus a false paper was palmed upon him. This statement is 
also wholly unsupported and at variance with proof and probility. The 
former commit tfee, in speaking of- the conversation testified to by Mr. 
Eddy, and the arrangment that Dr. Morton should pay Dr. Jackson 
$500, if ten per cent, on the proceeds of sale would amount to it, say : 

"But the representations and advice of Mr. Eddy, the common friend 
of the parties, modified their arrangement. He represented to Dr. Mor- 
ton that Dr. Jackson, from having gi^en him the information and ad- 
vice spoken of on the 30th of September, was entitled to participate in 
the patent as a joint discoverer. TMiat if he were not joined in the pa- 
tent, the fact of his giving that information would be used to impeach 
the patent, and that if Dr. Jackson were- joined as a patentee, his name 
and his advice and assistance would be useful in bringing out the dis- 
covery and giving it celebrity. With these arguments Dr. Morton was 
satisfied, and consented that Dr. Jackson should be named as a joint 
discoverer in the patent. Mr. Eddy also advised with Dr. Jackson, who 
informed him that, ' by the laws of the Massachusetts Medical Society, 
he would be .prevented from joining with Dr. Morton, in taking out a 
patent, as he would be expelled from the association, if he did so. He 
further stated that he intended to make a professional charge of $500 
for the advice he had given him, and that Dr. Morton had acceded to 
this ; that he did not wish his name coupled with Dr. Morton in any 
manner* that Dr. Morton might take out a patent, if he desired to do 
so, and do what he pleased with it.' At a subsequent interview, prior 
to the 27t.h October, Mr.'Eddy urged Dr. Jackson to waive his objections 
to associating with Dr. Morton, as 'I was confident that he u as mistak- 
en in his views as to what would be the action of the medical associa- 
tion ; that Dr. Morion could not properly take out a patent without 
him; and that by joining in the patent he would, of a certainty, be ob- 
taining credit as a discoverer ; whereas, should he not do so, he might 
lose all credit, as in the case of the magnetic telegraph, which I under- 
stood from Dr. Jackson he had suggested to Professor Morse.' The ob- 
jection as to the medical society was removed, on consultation with Dr. 
Gould. Dr. Jackson consented to join in the patent, and it was agreed 
that he should have ten per cent, of the proceeds for his interest in it." 

In settling the question to whom belongs the honor of the discovery, 
it is unimportant whether Dr. Jackson did or did not desire to give it 
freely to the world. Such desire, if he had it, did not make the dis- 
covery his ; and if it were not in fact his, the desire is without merit. 
In one point of vievy only is the patent question and contest relevant, 
namely : to show what the parties understood of their several rights ; 
nor would we touch upon that, after the above examination of the sub- 
ject by the former committee of the House, but to add to it another item 
of evidence. After this controversy had arisen and waxed warm, on the 


— day of January, 1847, Messrs. Loring cSc Hays, the counsel for Dr. Jack- 
son, addressed a letter to Dr. Morton, of which the following is an ex- 
tract : 

"It ^^eemed best that the differences between Dr. Jackson and your- 
self should not be made public; on the contrary, that it should be gen- 
erally understood the difHculties were in the course of adjustment. * * 
We have uniformly said, when inquired of, that we were making arrange- 
ments that we hoped would distribute the profits of the discovery in 
such a manner as would be satisfactory- to all parties. 

"Under the present circumstances of the case, we think the least that, 
injustice to yourselves and Dr. Jackson, you can offer, is 25 per cent, of 
the profits arising from the invention, both at home and abroad, in settle- 
ment of his claim upon you. * i * ' 

"It is our wish to settle the matter amicably, if possible, vye hope 
you will see, by our suggestions, that we wish only to have a fair dis- 
tribution of the profits of a discovery made among those who cannot, if 
they disagree, effectually sustain the patent; and which, if sustained, 
promises to give to all parties large sums of money. for their united co-opera- 

The proposition was rejected by Dr. Morton. This transaction shows 
the view that the parties each entertained, at that time, of his rights in 
the discovery; and it does not, in the opinion of your committee, place 
Dr. Jackson in a favorable position to denounce the patent, in the profits 
of which he desired thus to participate, as "an infamous speculation on 
human suffering." 

The former committee proceed to say : 

"Your committee do not feel that on this question of fact the parties 
ought to be bound by the legal conclusions of their common friend, Mr. 
Eddy, or by the papers which they executed in pursuance of«his legal 
advice. But they'do consider the communications made by them at the 
time to Mr. Eddy, the mutual agreement of the parties between them- 
selves as touching the discover}', and the facts admitted by them on the 
consultation, as matter of the utmost importance and significance. A 
voluntary agreement took place between the parties on that day, of 
which both must have understood the full force and effect, and to which 
neither seems to have been, or probably could have been, impelled by 
advice or counsel. It was that the whole right to use the discovery 
under the patent should be and was assigned to Dr. Morton, he paying 
to Dr. Jackson ten per cent, on all sales for licenses. 

"Your committee cannot here fail to remember the unqualified ternls 
of contempt and reprobation in which Dr. Jtj^ckson had, during the pre- 
ceding part of the monYh down almost to the very date of this arrange- 
ment, spoken of Dr. Morton and his alleged ignorance and recklessness 
in the use of this agent. They cannot conceive it possible, if he felt 
himself to be the true discoverer, that he would, by solemn contract,.re- 
linquish all power over his discovery, and place it solely in the hands of 
a man of whom he thought so illy. Dr. Jackson indignantly repels the 
idea that it was done for the purpose of gain ; and we think it could 
not be the case, as the pittance reserved to him, if he conceived himself 
the discoverer, was so despicably small. And how could he hope to 
acquire /ame by abandoning the most important discovery of the age ? 


one wliich, if it were his, and if under the auspices of his reputation, 
with his skill and science, it were presented to the world, could not fail 
to place him on the highest scientific and professional eminence. How 
could he hope to acquire fame by thus surrendering all control over the 
discovery, and placing it in the hands of such a man as he had repre- 
sented and still represents Dr. Morton to be? 

"A careful examination of the above detailed acts and conversations 
of the parties down to the 27th of October, about which it would seem 
to your committee there could be no doubt, renders it clear, almost to 
demonstration, that neither Dr. Jackson nor Dr. Morton, nor any of 
those who had witnessed or aided in the operations, supposed that Dr. 
Jackson was entitled to the merit of this discovery, or any other merit 
than that of having communicated important information to Dr. Mor- 
ton ; and if we trace the conduct of the parties further, this opinion is 
but confirmed. 

"On the 7th of Novemb^er, a capital operation was performed by Dr. 
Hayward in the hospital, the patient being under the influence of sul- 
phuric ether, adjninistered b}-^ Dr. Morton. Dr. Warren being informed 
by Dr. Jackson that he suggested the use of sulphuric ether to Dr. Mor- 
ton, invited him to attend and administer the ether. He declined, for 
two reasons: one was that he was going out of town; the other, that he 
could not do so consistently with his arrangements with Dr. Morton ; so 
the first capital operation, under the influence of ether, was successfullj'' 
performed. Dr. Jackson not yet thinking fit to attend. But in a com- 
munication published in the Boston Daily Advertiser, of March 1st, 
1847, he says: 'I was desirious of testing the ether in a capital opera- 
tion, and Dr. Warren politely consented to have the trial m^de ; and its 
results proved entirely satisfactorj', an amputation having been per- 
formed, under the influence of the ethereal vapor, without giving any 
pain to •the patient.' It strikes the mind with some surprise that Dr. 
Jackson should chiim this operation as an experiment made by him at 
his request, and to satisfy himself of the efficacy of the ' etherial vapor' 
in a capital operation, when the only connexion which he had with the 
operation was to decline attending it when specially invited. Indeed, 
so entirely did he omit to inform himself on the subject of this experi- 
ment, which he declares to be his, that, in the above communication, he 
names Dr. Warren as the surgeon who performed the operation, which 
was, in fact, performed by Dr. Hayward. 

"Another surgical operation was performed at the BroomSeld House, 
on the 21st of November, the ether again administered by Dr. Morton. 
Dr. Jackson was then present for the first time, on invitation, but merely 
as a spectator. On the 2d of January, 1847, an operation was performed 
in the hospital, when Dr. Jackson attended, and brought with him a bag; 
of oxygen gas to relieve the patient from asphyxia, in case it should 
supervene. Nothing of the kind occurred, and the gas was not used. 
This is the first and only act of Dr. Jackson's made known to your com- 
mittee, which implied that he had any duty to perform in the admims- 
tration of the ether, or that he rested under any responsibility as to, its 

Among the papers not heretofore presented. Dr. Jackson has brought 
before your committee a letter of George T. Dexter, dated December 19, 
1851, in which the writer states that Dr. Jackson, in the year 184f4^^com^ 


miinicated to him his discovery of sulphuric ether as an anaesthetic agent, 
and spoke of it freely, earnestly, and confidentially, as a means of allevi- 
ating much human suftering in surgical operations ; that in the winter 
of 1842, the witness called on Dr. Jackson in his laboratory, who told 
him he continued his experiments with sulphuric ether, and that it was 
likely to prove all that he had anticipated or more. 

We hear nothing however, from any other quarter, of continued experi- 
ments by Dr. Jackson, after that of the winter of 1841-2. Dr. Jackson 
himself does not profess to have made any. 

There is also a letter from D. I. Browne, who says that, in 1845, Dr. 
Jackson stated to him that he had discovered in the vapour of pure sul- 
phuric ether a preventive of pain in surgical operations, and that he 
spoke of its effects in such operations with enthusiasm. To both these 
gentlemen he made his communications in confidence, and no written 
statement of it appears from either of them until December, 1851, four 
years after the discovery was a subject of public contest, and not until 
after the scientific papers had been for nearly as long filled with the 
statements and evidence of the conflicting claimants. Without impu- 
ting any willful aberration from truth to either of the above named per- 
• sons, your committee think it but just to remark that their evidence, so 
far as correctness of memory is concerned, is entitled to much less weight 
than it would have been if given while the controversy was fresh and 
rife, and before full publication. There is certainly great danger that 
a witness, who has read with feelings of partiality the mass of-evidenee 
exhibited in this controversy, and the conflicting publications of the par- 
ties and their friends, will, when he attempts to state a conversation re- 
lative to the subject, which occurred six or nine j'ears ago, blend with 
his recollection of it the statements and the evidence which has been 
four years with it in his mind, and thus cause the one to be colored by 
or mistaken for the other. For reasons akin to this, the English courts 
of chancery will not permit a witness to be examined in a cause after 
publication of the evidence. And in the opinion of your committee, this 
evidence weighs but as dust in the balance against the evidence grow- 
ing out of the acts and omissions of Dr. Jackson, which your committee 
have already considered. Dr. Jackson may have told these persons all 
that he wrote to M. Elie de Beaumont on the 13th of November, 1846, but 
even 'his your committee think improbable. He may have repeated in 
his own person the speculations of Dr. Beddoesand Sir Humphrey Davy, 
connected with the experiments of Dr. Townsend. Dr. Wells did this, 
and even more. This knowledge of these speculations had become the 
common possession of the medical mind, a common highwa}'^, in which 
it was not discovery to travel. And it involves no improbability to sup- 
pose (hat these persons were mistaken as to the exact statement that Dr. 
Jackson made them, and that it is colored and extended in their letters. 

The last deposition of Dr. N. C. Keep, laid before the former commit- 
tee of the House shortly before the coming in of their report, shows what 
wild Ire.aks feeling and imagination sometimes plays with human 
memory. He testifies as follows : 

"I became associated in the business and practice of dentistry with Dr. 
Mortf.ii on the twenty-eighth day of November, in the year 1846. On 
the next day we were about to prepare an advertisement for publication, 
•when Dr. Augustus A. Gould called at our rooms. Being pressed with 


business, 1 requested him to write the advertisement, with which request 
he complied. After he had written it, which he did at his own house, 
he brought it to me, and we read it together. In it the discovery of 
etherization, without any suggestion having been made by me to that 
effect, was ascribed in explicit terms to Dr. Charles T. Jackson. Dr. 
Gould pointing with his linger to the words in which this ascription was 
expressed, said to me 'that will please .lackson.' I then showed the 
advertisement to Dr. Morton, and we read it together. He then ex- 
claimed with emphasis, 'that is good ; I like that; I'll lake it to the 
printer.' Copies of the advertisement were made under the direction 
of Dr. Morton, and, as I supposed at the time, without alteration, and 
published by his order in three evening newspapers. On seeing the 
advertisement in the Evening Traveller, on the evening of the same 
day, J was greatly surprised to find that the words which ascribed the 
ether discovery to Dr. Jackson, had been struck out. The next morning 
I called the attention of Dr. Morton to the fact, and asked him why he 
struck out those words. He hesitated, and seemed not to know what to 
say, when I said to him : ' Morton, why do you quarrel with Jackson ? 
You injure yourself, and injure the cause.' His reply was : 'I would'ht 
if he would behave himself. The credit of the discovery belongs to Dr. 
Jackson ; Jackson shall have the credit of it ; I want to make money 
out of it.' 

" I stated the foregoing facts to my family on the aforesaid evening, 
and afterwards to other individuals. 1 have heretofore declined volun- 
tarily testifying to them, but consider that I have no right, upon a call 
of such a nature as is now made upon me, to withhold the testimony. 

" N. C. KEEP. 

"Boston, February 8, 1849." 

On this the former committee remark : 

"When this deposition was received, the chairman of your commitee 
showed it to Dr. Morton, who in a few minutes brought to him a bound 
book entitled 'Miscellaneous Notes.' On the 91st page was a manu- 
script in the handwriting of Dr. A. A. Gould, written evidently on the 
outside sheet of a letter addressed to Dr. A. A., and post-marked ' Wash- 
ington city, D. C, July 9,' from all which it was most manifest that 
this was the original draft of the advertisement testified toby Dr. Keep. 
This paper contrasted with the evidence of Dr. Keep as the contents of 
an original draft, fixes in the minds of your committee the just value of 
this species of evidence. This paper is as follows: 

"' The subscribers, having associated themselves in the business of 
dental surgery, would respectfully invite their friends to call on them at 
their rooms, No. 19, Tremont Row; they confidently believe that the 
increased facilities which their united experience will afford them of 
performing operations with elegance and despatch, and the additional 
advantage of having them performed without pain, by the use of the 
fluid recently invented by Doctors Jackson and- Morton, will not only 
meet the wishes of their former patients, but secure to them additional 
patronage.' " 

Your committee also examined the original paper, which is the sub- 
ject of the above deposition, and are satisfied that it has never been 
altered by erasure or interlineation since it came from the hands of Dr. 


Goultl. The entire narrative, therefore, of Dr. Keep that the paper 
originally conceded the whole merit of the discovery to Dr. Jackson, 
the conversation relating to that, the alteration by Dr. Morton before 
publication, the reproof given him by the witness, and Dr. Morton's reply, 
still insisting that the credit was due to Dr. .Jackson, and that he should 
have it, is all shown to be false from beginning to end, the mere creation 
of an excited imagination. Not an error in regard to the force of terms, 
as is probably the case in the two former depositions considered above, 
but a statement which, by a fortunate reference made in it to a written 
paper, is proved to have no foundation whatsoever in truth. 

Your committee cannot better present 'their veiws of the mass of 
evidence filed before the former committee of the House than by here 
embodying in its connexion so much of their report as relates to it. 
They say : 

' "The testimony of Don P. Wilson and .T. E. Hunt, who were assistants 
in Dr. Morton's shop for a few months, commencing in November, 1846, 
is adduced to impeach the evidence of Leavitt, Spear, and Hayden, by 
their alleged declarations, and the title of Dr. Morton to' the discovery, 
by his declarations. This is a species of testimony against vi^hich the 
books on evidence especially put us on our guard. It is a sweeping 
kind of evidence which covers everything; and if-the imputed conversa- 
tion be private, or if it be general, (as he " often said," or " always said,") it 
is often difficult to subject the evidence to the ordinary tests of surround- 
ing circumstances and inherent probability, so as to fix its value. There 
is enough, however, in these depositions to show that they are of but 
little weight. It is to be remembered, in the first place, that they are 
in direct contradiction to the testimony of Whitman, Spear, Leavitt, 
and Hayden, and they contradict by strong implication the testimony of 
Mr, Metcalf and Mr. Veightman, the character of all and each of whom 
is most satisfactorily vouched. The testimony of these two. witnesses 
cannot be true, unless the four first above named entered into a conspi- 
racy to carry a point by perjury ; but, as to them, we have examined 
their evidence — we have tested it by its agreement with surrounding 
circumstances, and we are satisfied of its truth. 

"This of itself would be enough to dispose of the testimony of Wil- 
son and Hunt ; but it is proper to look at the inherent character of their 

"Wilson, in the commencement of his deposition, swears, by way of 
recital, that Dr. Charles T. Jackson was the discoverer of the applica- 
tion of ether to produce insensibility to pain in surgical operations ; and, 
among other things, he says, 'Morton first claimed the discovei-y to he his 
own' in February, 1847. To say nothing of the looseness and total 
want of caution with which the fact of the discovery is stated — a fact of 
which Mr. Wilson certainly had no knowiiedge whatever — he testifies 
directly against the recorded fact in the second particular, for Dr. Mor- 
ton did claim the discovery as early as September 30, 184G, and his claim 
was given to the world the next day in the publjc prints. Ills claim, 
and his alone, was known to the surgeons of the hospital during the 
month of October, and his public circulars and the •numerous answers 
to them, which he has exhibited to the committee, show that during all 
that- time, and at all times, he claimed the discovery publicly and to the 
world as his own. The witness goes on to say : ' In the administration 


of the ether I was guided by and solely relied upon the advice and as- 
surances of Dr. Jackson, received through Morton. Wc never dared 
to follow Mortoii's own directions' — and adds that, if they had, the con- 
sequences would probably have been fatal and etherization a failure. 
And further, that he never knew Morton ^ to apply it to ti patient in the 
office. This was fronm a most apparent fear and shunning of resnonsi- 
bility.'" , ^ 

" Now as to the advice and assurances of Dr. .Tackson, alleged to have 
been received from time to time through Dr. Morton, we have no rea- 
son to suppose that any such repeated intercourse and communication 
took place during that time, and we have no evidence of the actual fact 
of any such meeting and instructions. On the contrary, there is evi- 
dence of unkind feelings existing on Dr. Jackson's part towards Dr. 
Morton ; and in the opinion of your committee the testimony of Dr. 
Keep indirectly contradicts the testimony of Wilson on that point, and 
directly upon each of the other points last named. Dr. Keep's object 
arid the tendency of his evidence is to depreciate Dr. Morton ; but for 
faults the very reverse of those with which he is charged by Wilson, 
namely, a ' rash recklessness,'' instead of 'a most manifest fear of respon- 
sibility,^ in administering the ether; and he evidently is impressed with 
the belief, and designs .to let it be known, that the success of etheriza- 
tion depended upon his skill and prudence. He says ' it was his (Morton's) 
practice during that time to administer the ether without any adequate 
provision for the admission of atmospheric air; and whenever operations 
were performed by other persons in the office, and under his supervision, 
he directed the application in the same way, in consequence of which 
many of the operations were unsuccessful, and great distress and suffer- 
ing were induced.' Dr. Keep then states that he made ample provision 
for the admission of atmospheric air, and advised the assistants to do 
the same thing; but 'they being influenced by his (Morton's) directions 
and known wishes, did not at all times follow my advice.' Not a word 
is said by Dr. Keep of any advice or directions coming from Dr. Jack- 
son, which, if it had actually occurred, must have been known to him, 
and would have formed an impoi-tant item in the current incidents of 
the time. The evidence of these two witnesses stand thus. They were 
in the ofRce of Dr. Morton, during the same ' thirty days,' Keep the su- 
perior, Wilson the assistant. Keep says Dr. Morton was in the habit 
of administering the ether in a particular manner, and that he was rash - 
and reckless. Wilson says that he never administered it at all, and that 
he was timid and shrank from responsibility. But the surgeons of the 
hospital agree with neither one nor the other, but show that he repeat- 
edly administered it in the hospital himself, to their entire satisfaction, 
and with entire success. Wilson says the assistants in the ofhce would 
not follow the directions ofj,Dr. Morton, but relied upon such as were 
brought from Dr. Jackson. Keep says nothing about instructions from 
Dr. Jackson, but that the assistants in the office were influenced by the 
directions and known wishes of Dr. Morton, so that his salutary advice 
and remonstrances were often of no avail. Wilson says Dr. Morton ex- 
plained to him, an assistant in his office, very fully all the particulars of 
the discovery and patent ; but to Dr. Keep, his partner, he extended no 
such confidence. We leave these two depositions to be viewed in their 
strong contrast ; and as to the testimony of Don P. Wilson, considering 


its inherent improbability, the suspicious nature of the species of testi- 
mony to which it belongs, the manner in which it is contradicted di- 
rectly and indirectly by the evidence of Dr. Keep ; and when we further 
consider that it is directly opposed to the evidence of Whitman, Spear, 
Leavitt, and Dr. Hayden, and indirectly to that of Metcalf and Weight- 
man ; and that it is also in direct conflict with numerous public printed 
cards and notices of the day, we feel that we cannot give it the slightest 
weight or consideration. 

"The testimony of .Tohn E. Hunt is subject to the same objections 
with those of Don- P. Wilson, and other objections which your commit- 
tee will now proceed to notice. In order to bring out a declaration on 
the part of Spear, that he had never taken the ether, he represents him 
as taking it one evening, and in the excitement produced by it, seizing 
upon a countryman present, and handling him roughly. The apology 
which Spear mukes to the countryman is, 'this was the first time he had 
ever taken the ether;' not that it was the first time ether so effected him, 
or that the rudeness was committed under the influence of ether, but 
that it was the first time he had ever taken the ether — a fact which had 
little to do with the act of rudeness, and was a most irrelevant apology. 
But the inquiry thereupon made by Mr. Hunt is most remarkably incon- 
sequent ; he having heard Spear say that it was the first time he had 
ever taken ether, asks him if it 'ever affected him in the same way be- 
fore.' Now, if he had been pressing Spear with a cross examination, 
in order to entrap him in some important admission, the inquiry might, 
perhaps, have been made ; but it was then a matter of no importance 
whatever whether Spear had breathed the vapor of ether or not, and it 
becomes in the highest degree improbable that both branches of the 
conversation, so inconsistent with each other, actually occurred; and as 
the statement contradicts the testimony of so many respectable witness- 
es, and is in itself improbable, your committee do not feel bound to give 
it credence. Again: in a walk with Spear, Hunt gets from him a full 
disclosure of the discovery, and a statement that it belonged to Dr. Jack- 
son. According to this, Dr. Morton got the requisite information and 
instructions from Dr. Jackson ; came home ; tried it on a vmnan, and it 
worked first-rate; and he had since then continued to use it under the 
directions of Dr. Jackson. The evidence shows that Spear well knew 
that the experiment was not tried on a woman, but on a man, whose cer- 
tificate was read next day by hundreds in the city of Boston. But the 
witness evidently took this part of the story from the narrative of Don 
P. Wilson (whose deposition was taken on the same day) about the re- 
fractory female patient named in the cojiversation with Dr. Jackson on 
the 30th of September, who was to be cheated with atmospheric air, 
administered from a gas bag. 

"From among the thousands with whom Dr. Morton communicated, 
touching this discovery, during the winter of 184G and 1847, some six or 
seven, with whom he had personal controversies, testify to his admis- 
sions that he was not the discoverer. They differ as to the degrees of 
directness and fullness with which he opened the matter to them, but it 
yill be found, as your committee believe, to be a rule in this case, hav- 
ing no exception, that the more violent the hostility of the individual, 
the more fiercely he assailed Dr. Morton's patent, the more free Morton 
became in his communication, and the more fully did he unbosom him- 


self; and his statements always went directly to defeat his own claims, 
and support the defence of the opponent to whom he made it. For ex- 
ample, H. S. Payne says ' that, in the early part of December, 184G, he 
commenced applying the vapor of ether to produce insensibility to pain 
in surgical operations. This was afler I had heard of the discovery of 
the preparation by Charles T. Jackson, of the city of Boston.' He then 
states that Dr. Clarke purchased of Dr. Morion a right, under the patent, 
for Rensselaer and several adjoining counties, who sold to Dr. Bordell 
and Dr. Payne, was notified by Dr. Blake, as the agent of Dr. Morton, 
to abandon the use of etlier in his practice. After failing in an attempt 
at negotiation with Dr. Bordell, he went to Boston and had an interview 
with Dr. Morton, who not once only, but repeatedl}^ declared that Dr. 
Jackson was the sole discoverer ; 'that all the knowledge he possessed 
in relation to its properties and application came from Dr. Jackson, and 
that he never had any idea of applying sulphuric ether, or that suphu- 
ric ether could be applied for the aforesaid purposes, until Dr. Jackson 
had suggested it to him, and had given him full instructions.' This most 
frank communication raises at once a difficulty about the patent, which 
is obviously void if that statement be true; and Dr. Morton attempts 
to remove it by saying 'that he had been very fortunate in affecting an 
arrangement with Dr. Jackson before any one else had the opportunity, 
and that he was the first man to whom Dr. Jackson communicated the 
discover}^.' And he adds : 'Dr. Morton again and f/^'am said that he 
was not in. a,ny way the discoverer of the new application of ether, but 
that the idea had been first communicated to him by Dr. Jackson, who loas 
its discoverer, and that his {Dr. Morlon^s) interest in the patent was merely 
a purchased one ; and, moreover, that he was very lucky in anticipating all 
other persons by first receiving so precious a discovery from the lips of Dr. 

"After seeing the fullness and unreserved character of this important 
conversation, and the apparent earnestness with which Dr. Morton at- 
tempts to impress the fact that he had no participation whatever in the 
disccrvery, not satisfied with suffering it to escape him inadvertently or 
even stating it once, but repeating it ' again' and 'again,' as if he were 
anxious to impress it, one could not but be surprised to know that Dr. 
Payne, before this conversation, had pirated this discovevy; had set up 
for himself; bade defiance to Dr. Morton and his assignees; and on his 
return home, published a card, in which he by no means denies that Dr. 
Morton discovered the thing which he and his assignees are using, but 
averring that his (Dr. Payne's) anodyne vapor, vihich in his affidavit he 
admits to be sulphuric ether, 'is not the invention of the great Dr. Mor- 
ton, but an entirely superior article, and all persons must beware how 
they infringe on his rights.' And the more especially is it surprising 
when we reflect that this state of facts, which Dr. Morton took such 
unusual pains to repeat and to impress upon this his most determined 
opponent, would, if true, render the patent wholly void in his hands, 
and put his discovery entirely in the power of Dr. Payne, and all others 
who should see fit to avail themselves of it. There can be no absolute 
proof that Dr. Morton did not make these statements ; but it is clear that 
it was against his interest to make them ; and there is also full proof 
that they are not true, and that they are in direct opposition to his nu- 
merous printed and published statements. They are not true ; for, be- 


sides the six witnesses who testify directly or indirectly to the discovery 
in its inception and progress, it distinctly conflicts with the conversation 
of the parties, and their mutual understanding, on the 26th arid 27th of 
October, as testified to by R. H. Eddy. It is in direct conflict with the 
claim promul;?ated by Dr. Morton, and received and accredited by the 
scientific gentlemen in the medical hospital, who performed the opera- 
tions testing the efficacy of the discovery. 
" Dr. Warren says : 

"'Boston, January 6, 1847. 

"'I hereby declare and certify, to the best of my knowledge and recol- 
lection, that I never heard of the use of sulphuric ether by inhalation, 
as a means of preventing the pains in surgical operations, until it was 
suggested by Dr. W. T. G. Morton, in the latter part of October, 1846.' 

"And alike opposed to all the numerous printed circulars which Dr. 
Morton and his agents had distrib.uted and were then distributing in 
every part of the United States. It appears that prior to this date. Dr. 
Morton's attention had been called to an opposing claim to the discovery, 
and to the experiments at the hospital, and he had 'taken a decided pub- 
lic stand against them, as witness his circular, publisheci t^e 20th day of 
November, 1846, and the note thereto attached : 

■ '"dental operations without pain. 

" ' Dr. Morton has made a great improvement in dental and surgical ope- 
7'ations, for which letters patent have been granted by the Government 
of the United States, and to secure which measures have been taken in 
foreign nations. 

"'Having completed the necessary preparations for the purpose, and 
greatly enlarged his establishment, Dr. Morton respectfully announces 
to his friends and the public that he is now ready toaffordevery accom- 
modation to persons requiring dental operations. 

"'His assistants and apartments are so numerous, and his entire ar- 
rangements on so superior a scale, that immediate and the best atten- 
tion can be given to every ca?e, and in everj*^ branch of his profession. 

"'The success of this improvement has exceeded the most sanguine 
expectations, not only of himself and patients, but of the very skilful 
and distinguished surgeons M'ho have performed operations with it at 
the Massachusetts General Hospital, and other places in Boston, or wit- 
nessed its use at his office. Rooms, No. 19, Tremont Row. / 

"'Boston, November 20, 1846. 

"'*** Inasmuch as one or two persons have presumed to advertise my 
improvement as their own, and even issued notices to the effect that the 
applications of it at the hospital were made by them, and that the cer- 
tificates of its efficacy and value were given to them by the surgeons of 
THAT institution, I fecl it my duty to warn the public against such false 
and unwarrantable statements ; and at the same time to caution all per- 
sons against making, aiding, or abetting in any infringement of my rights, 
if they would avoid the trouble and cost of prosecutions and damages 
at law.' 

"And your committee do not think it credible that Dr. Morton, Testing 
his claims to the discovery on the grounds which he did — having a most 
decided public opinion at home in his favor as the discoverer — having 
freshly tasted of the intoxicating draught of fame — and recently, in the 
public papers and in circulars, asserted his authorship of the discovery 

and defied his rivals— they do not think it credible that he should seize 
the first occasion which ofieretl, in conversation with a most determined 
opponent, to declare the i'alsehood of all that he had written, published' 
and claimed — to disclaim the honor which the world so generally and 
freely accorded him — confess away all his pecuniary rights under the 
patent — and even support his surrender, disclaimer, and sacrifice by a 
self-debasing assertion which he well knew was false. The improba- 
bility is too strong to allow it ci-edit. 

" But Dr. Payne says, that in the early part of December, 1 846, he com- 
menced his operations with sulphuric ether, and that this was after he 
had heard of the discovery of Dr. Charles T. Jackson, of Boston. How 
he heard of the discovery of Dr. Jackson he does not say ; surely not 
by the information of the scientific men of Boston, for they attributed 
the discovery to Dr. Morton ; not by the public prints, cards, and adver- 
tisement, for the name of Dr. Morton atone appeared there ; and he 
says, in conclusion, that he was very much astonished in learning, some 
time after his visit to Boston, that Dr. Morton ' asserted any claim what- 
ever' to the discovery, and this, after the publication and circulation of 
the notices, cards, and circulars of Dr. Morton, and after the witness had 
long been engaged in an embittered contest with Morton and his as- 
signees, and the publication of his (Dr. Payne's) card.* 

"Dr. Allen Clarke, who also testifies to admissions by Dr. Morton, but 
much less strongly than Dr. Payne, and whose statement may well be 
the result of a misunderstanding, made the more decided by hostility to 
Dr. Morton, and a desire to defeat his patent, was the purchaser of a 
right, for yhich he gave his note for $350. He at length determined 
not to pay the note, but to join in contesting the patent, and he expres- 
ses the opinion, that by keeping up the controversy for one year, the 
patent would be broken down. Dr. Blaisdell says ' Clark M'ould not 
pay you, for he could get the use of the letheon for one year, before you 
could get the license from them, and by that time they could ruin the 
sale of it there,' and he might well have added, and with it the dis- 
coverer; a very common fortune to men who render the most important 
services to their race. 

" Time, and the reasonable limits of a report, not allow your com- 
mittee to dwell upon the few remaining items- of kindred testimony. 
The weight and strength of them have been considered ; and the residue, 
like them, are composed of alleged statements by Dr. Morton to per- 
sons with whom he then had, or has since had, personal controver- 
sies touching his discovery, and they are all in contradiction to the 
claims which Dr. Morton daily promulgated in print to the world. 
Those printed papers are, as your committee conceive, ihe best evi- 
dence of what Dr. Morton all that time claimed, and what he conceded; 

• "Notice. — Dr. Payne has just returned from Boston, and has only time now to give notice 
to his friends and the public, that in a day or two he will be able to show to the public that the 
anodyne vapor which he has used is not the invention of the great Dr. Morton, but an entirely 
superior article, and that lie shall continue to use it. And nil persons must beware how they in- 
fringe on his rights." Extract of a letter of Mr. E. Filley, attorney of Dr. A. Clarke, of Lan- 
singburg, New York, to Dr. Morton's attorney of Boston". — "As one Dr. H.J. Payne, dentist, of 
the city of Troy, persists in the use of the apparatus and gas, and proclaims defiance to Dr. Mor- 
ton and any of his assigns, Dr. Clarke is completely thwarted in his enjoyment of the rights se- 
cured to him by Dr. Morton. The conduct of Dr. Payne is particularly annoying." 


they are of the time and of the transaction ; they do not admit of misstate- 
ment, misconstruction, or falsification ; they are of unvarying and exact 
memory; and they speak the language of undoubted truth as to. the 
claims," though not as to the rights of the author. His claims, conteni- 
porane'ous with these papers, are what these witnesses attack. His 
rights we have already considered ; and, as to the evidence of his claims, 
that which he insisted and said was his, the published papers stand 
against the testimony of these witnesses,' as written or printed evidence 
against parol. His alleged confessions, made under the most improba- 
ble circumstances, are in direct contradiction to his printed circulars, 
daily and contemporaneously promulgated to the vi'orld. If, then, these 
alleged parol admissions stood against the printed and published papers, 
without anything beside to add strength to either, we could not, in ouf 
conscience, in weighing the conduct of men by rational probabilities, 
hesitate to give'the decided preponderance to the printed over the parol 
evidence. But the parol evidence runs counter to all the leading facts 
in the case heretofore considered and established, in the opinion of your 
committee, by the most indubitable proof, while the printed circulars 
and notices entirely agree with them, and make vi^ith them one uniform 
and consistent whole. The objects of the parties, their claims, their efforts, 
their purposes, appear the same throughout. The' deposition of A. Blais- 
dell is, however, worthy of especial comment. At the time he professes 
to have had the conversation in which Dr. Morton accords all the merit 
of the discovery to Dr. Jackson, he' was the a^ent of Dr. Morton, spread- 
ing his circulars throughout the land ; had taken care to send one of 
, them to each and every surgeon dentist in New York ; and yet now de- 
clares that he was especially charged with the information which he 
takes care to inculcate, that these circulars were all false in the most 
material point, and that the patent which he is selling is void by reason 
of that falsehood.* He was at the same 'time in habits of almost daily 
correspondence with Dr. Morton ; and the difficulties which he met 
with occurred while he was absent, and it would most naturally have 
suggested itself to him to communicate them to Dr. Morton by letter, 
and in that way get his assent to obviate them by declaring Dr. Jack- 
son the sole discoverer. But he does not do so ; if he had, his letter 
and Dr. Morton's answer would have been in writing; and, then, if 
there were truth in the statement of those " alleged admissions, there 
would have been one item of written evidence to support them. But 
this is wholly wanting. Blaisdell professes to have waited till his re- 
turn to Boston, and then to have held a private conversation with Dr. 
Morton, who at once and eagerly admitted away his whole claim, both 
to money and reputation. 

"It is remarkable that, in more than three months, during all which 
time these witnesses say Dr. Morton conceded to Dr. Jackson the merit 

• Extract from A. Blaudell's letter to Dr. Morton, dated New York, December 29, 1846. 

"I am sending one of your circulars to every dentist in New York." 

New York, December 31, 1846 — " I have sent a circular to every dentist in New York city 
and written on the cover whore I am to bo found." ' 

In a letter from Pittsburg, dated February 1, 1847, he writes : "I gave him a few circulars to 
give his neighbors." Remarks to the same clTect occur in other letters. 

October 26, 1846 — " Dr. Morion has discovered a compound, by inhaling which, a person ig 
thrown into a sound sleep, and rendered insensible to pain," &c. 


of being the 'sole discoverer,' and during all which time he was daily 
writing and almosfdaily publishing, there is not produced one line writ- 
ten by Dr. Morton, or written to him, countenancing the idea; nor is 
there one act of his which looks to such admission, A written admis- 
sion, or an ambiguous paragraph in writing, which could be fairly con- 
strued into an admission, or a letter written to him during that tithe 
which could be reasonably construed to refer to such admission, .would 
be tenfold the value of all the parol testimony now presented, of those 
admissions. Dr. Movton has shown to. the committee several bound 
volumes of letters addressed to him upon this suiiject, all of which re- 
cognise him as the discoverer. Viewing these statements in this point 
of light, comparing them with the printed and published papers,* in 
which Dr. Morton contemporaneously and continually asserted his 
claims to the discovery, and finding them opposed, the}!-are, to the 
well-settled facts of the case already considered, they weigh, in our 
opinion, as dust in the balance, and in no wise affect the well-settled 
facts of the case."t 

It may not be irrelevant to remark that there is not, in all this mass of 
depositions and letters, any contemporaneous written paper supporting 
Dr. Jackson's claim to the discover}'-, or impugning Dr. iNIorton's — all is 
parol. Declarations made by Dr. .Jackson asserting the claim, and 
declarations made by Dr. Morton, even in the heat of the controversy, 
to his most violent enemies, abandoning his claims and surrendering 
them to Dr. Jackson. But no written paper sustaining either. And 
where in two instances the statement of Dr. Jackson touches a paper 
written or signed by himself, he repudiates them as false, and as obtain- 
ed by circumvention and fraud ; because, if true, they disprove his claim. 
And in the instances in which the testimony of his witnesses, tending 
the admissions and abandonment of Dr. Morton, can be directly tested 
by written papers, they are thereby in every instance proved to be false. 
Your committee consider that species of parol evidence, made up of 
alleged declarations of the parties merely, unsupported by a single writ- 
ten paper, but contradicted by every thing in writing which they touch, 
entitled to no weight whatever, against the well known and fully admit- 
ted acts of the parties in this case. 

* " To the public, — Dr. Morton, surgeon dentist, No. 19, Tremont Row, Boston, hereby gives 
public notice that letters patent have been granted him by the Government of the United States 
for his iinvroveincnt, vphereby pain may be prevented in dental and surgical operations." — Boston 
Evening Transcript, November 20, 1846. 

" Lnporlant information for the puplic at large. — I do hereby give this public notice, and 
warn all persons against using my invention." " I am particularly desirous that my invention 
should not be abused or intrusted to ignorant or improper hands, or applied to nefarious purposes." 
"New York Express, Baltimore Patriot, United States (Philadelphia) Gazette, will please insert 
the above twice every week for four weeks, and send their bills to this office." In same paper 
December 4, 1846. , 

f In answer to a communication by Dr. J. F. Flagg, in which he threatens to take possession 
of the invention, and in which he attributes the credit of it, if there was any, to Dr. C. T. Jack- 
son, Dr. Morton says : " Unless he can show — and I do not know any body else that can — that 
(to use his own words) it has been known and published for some years tliat the vapor of sulphu- 
ric ether would produce the visible efTccts now said to bo discovered, then the invention is origi- 
nal." — Huston Evening Transcript, December 10, 1846. 

In a letter from Dr. Wells (Boston Post, April, 1847,) he makes the following extract from 
Dr. Morton's letter to him in the early part of October, 1846 : "The letter which is thus intro- 
duced with my signature, was written in answer to one which I received from Dr. Morton, who 
represented to me that he had discovered a compound." 


Of Dr. Jackson's acts, while the surgeons of the principal curative 
institution in New England — the Massachusetts General Hospital — 
were applying the critical test to a discovery which he now claims as 
his own, the committee have before them new evidence in the following 
letter, upon which they forbear to comment farther than to remark how 
decidedly it confirms the conclusions at which they have already ar- 
rived : ■ 

Dr. Henry J. Bigelow, Professor in Harvard University, and Sur- 
geon in the Massachusetts General Hospital, in answer to a letter of 
the Hon. Geo. T. Davis, says : 

Boston, Fehruanj 5, 1852, 

Dear. Sir: I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your letter, dated 
January 21, addressed to Dr. Hay ward. Dr. Townsend, and myself, and 
containing the following extract from a written remonstrance of Dr. 
Charles T. Jackson, which has been laid before a committee of the House 
of Representatives. 

"The cause of asphyxia, so commonly produced in the early adminis- 
tration of ether at the Massachusetts General Hospital, I traced di- 
rectly to the employment of those valved inhalers. In the weakened state 
of respiratory action, under aneesthetic agents, the valves are not raised 
in attempts to breathe, and the patient is drowned by the pure ether or 
chloroform vapor. On the removal of the valve by my directions, as- 
phyxia at once ceased to occur at the Hospital, and I had no occasion 
to employ the oxygen gas to revive the patients, as I was requested to 
do by one of the eminent surgeons of that institution ; for no asphyxia 
happened after my advice was followed, to throw aside the inhalers 
and use a sponge." 

In detailing as you request "a precise recollection of facts upon these 
points so far as they fell under my personal observation," I may say 
that, to the best of my knowledge, being very familiar with those early 
experiments at the hospital, generally administering the ether myself. 

1st. There was no more asphyxia then,, from ether,- than there is 

2d. There was certainly no period at which asphyxia at once ceased 
to occur at the hospital. 

3d. This alleged asphyxia had little or no connexion with any valves. 

4th. I never heard that any valves were suppressed, nor that Dr. 
Jackson suppressed them. 

5th. Asphj-xia as it then occurred was of no great importance, and 
was dependent upon the same causes which sometimes produce it 

6th. When Dr. Jackson brought oxygen gas to the hospital, nobody 
required it ; it was not used, nor has it been, to my knowledge, any- 
where since used, in this connexion. 

In reply to your inquiry how far Dr. Jackson personally superinten- 
ded the early administration of etl^er at the Hospital, t answer, not 
at all. He not only exercised no superintendence at the Hospital, as- 
sumed no responsibility, but actually did not come there for more 
than two months after ether was regularly in use in that institution.* 

•Seo Dr. Townsend's letter, page 34. 


I will venture to allude to another point, which is of no importance to 
anybodjr but mysell". Yet it directly concerns me, and 1 should be glad 
of an opportunity to refer to it, in order to refute certain statements of 
Dr. Jackson. In a part of his "remonstrance," Dr. Jackson uses, as I ' 
am informed, the following words : 

"The few medical gentlemen, or young surgeons, connected with the 
Ho.-^pital, who have not fully recognized my rights in this discovery, are, 
I lament to say it, anxious to obtain a larger share of the glory than 
rightfully belongs to them ; and one of them* * * * 

" Dr. H. J. Bigelow very distinctly claims the honor of being the first 
to promulgate this great discovery, the first to make the profession ac- 
quainted with it, he having stealthily published my discovery before I 
was ready to lay it before the public, and while I was temporarily ab- 
sent from the city, by reading an account of it before two societies of 
which I was, and am now, a member — the Boston Society for Medical 
Improvement and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences — and 
afterwards published his paper in the Boston Medical and Surgical Jour- 
nal, against my solemn protect and denunciation of it as false, unjust, 
and quackish. In that paper, a copy of the journal containing which I 
send to you, please observe that the nature of the agent used is carefully 
concealed, and hence it is a mere quack advertisement." 

The paper above alluded to was the first paper upon the newly dis- 
covered effects of ether. It was intended by Dr. Morton, and did hap- 
pen to be the instrument by which the discovery was announced to the 
profession and the world at large, both in this countrj^ where it was at- 
tacked by the incredulous, and in Europe, where it was widely reprinted. 

This paper,! to quote a contemporary publication, was intended to be 
a narration of physiological facts observed by myself, with a few con- 
cluding remarks connected with the patent right. It was published 
more than five years ago, and those objections of Dr. Jackson's are now 
to me altogether new, and I believe they are also new to every body 

It will only be necessary to state in reply: 1st. That Dr. Jackson 
could not at that time, for the want of the requisite facts, have himself 
written this physiological paper. In fact that nothing but his present 
assertion shows that he had either the intention or desire to do it, and 
that there was no reason whatever either to consult him either in read- 
ing or writing the paper, or to suppose that he wished to be consulted. 

2d. That he read the paper before it was printed, and assented to its 
publication in print. 

1. One thing is very striking. Dr. Jackson never saw a single surgical 
or dental operation with ether until long after it was a confirmed dis- " 
covery, and until weeks, if not months, after this paper was printed. As 
this paper was an account of the new physiological effects of ether, ob- 
served in Dr. Morton's and other experiments. Dr. Jackson, who saw 
none of these experiments, would have been unable to have made any 
communication to a society upon this point, even if he had wished to, 
for the simple reason that for two months he had not the requisite ma- 
terials, but no body will now believe that he wished to make any such 

• A part of the argument is here a little loose and is omitted. 
^ Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, December, 1846. 


communication ; he had, according to his own statement, kept the matter 
from the public for years, and we may reasonably infer that he would 
have done so till this day, if the disclosure had been left to him. And it 
is well known that he kept aloof for a long time fi'om any public con- 
nexion with Dr. Morton or with ether, while physiological papers were 
written by the dozen by other people, without any objection on his part. 

I should have been certainly most happy to have consulted Dr. Jack- 
son, had I any idea that, as he now pretends, he desired it ; but even if 
I had done so, it is plain that he could have given me no information 
upon the subject which was under investigation^ for he had no control 
whatever over Dr. Morton's experiments — he had never seen them, nor 
had he any authority to make use of them, if he had seen them. The 
paper alluded to was not designed to promulgate old theory nor the 
suspicions of two years standing, which Dr. Jackson claims, but new 
facts, and for these I applied to Dr. Morton. He instituted the experi- 
ments ; he had their sole control ; he took the responsibility of them, while 
Dr. Jackson kept out of the way. 

The application of ether tor anaesthetic purposes, was at that time sup- 
posed by everybody to be wholly in the hands of Dr. Morton. Dr. Mor- 
ton, through the intervention of a friend of his, who was also a friend 
of my own, allowed me to take notes of these experiments for publica- 
tion, and as far as 1 know, I was the first person not connected with Dr. 
Morton's office, except Dr. Gould, who saw these experiments. 

As to Dr. Jackson's knowledge of the cases at the hospital, which 
are also detailed in my paper, Dr. Jackson did not come there till Jan- 
uary 2d, of the year after they occurred. 

2. When this paper was to be pi'inted, a new element was to be in- 
troduced into it, at the request of Dr. Morton ; the question of patent, a 
delicate subject already mooted by the interested parties, and about 
which it was obviously proper that Dr. Jackson, who was interested in 
it, should be consulted. Though he might not care who prosecuted or 
announced the physiological experiments, the matter of patent was 
plainly a different question. ■ 

I thfrefore sought an interview with Dr. Jackson at his house several 
times. Failing to find him, I left for him a verbal request that he would 
be present at a final conference at the house of Dr. Gould, where the 
paper was to be finally considered and adjusted before being printed ; 
especially the few closing paragraphs, then for the first time appended 
to it, and relating to the question of patent. 

During this conference, the door was flung open, and Dr. Jackson en- 
tered, declaiming vociferously. He was quietly asked what might be the 
occasion of his excitement ; and was requested to read the paper then 
upon the table, and under discussion, and to see whether he did or did 
not approve it. Dr. Jackson examined the paper, and finding it to be 
of a strictly physiological character, touching very lightly the questions 
of patent and of discovery, he changed his tone, ceased to object, re- 
quested one or more alterations of the part bearing upon these la'tter 
questions, especially the suppression of a paper relating to the electric 
telegraph, and assented to the publication of ^ the paper. 

This took place at the house of Dr. Gould, in Treraont street, on Sun- 
day evenuig, three days before the publication referred to, and in the 
presence of Rr. Gould, Mr. Eddy, and Dr. Morton. Dr. Jackson assent- 


ed to the publication of the paper as it then stood, and the conference 
was amicably terminated. 

This statement, together with the accompanying letters of Dr. Gould, 
and Mr. Eddy, stating their recollection of the facts, may be compared 
with the above extract from Dr. Jackson's remonstrance. 

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant, 


Dr. Gould's letter referred to in the above : 

Boston, July 14, 1852. 

Dr. H. J. BiGELovv : 

Dear Sir: In- answer to your inquiry respecting my recollection of 
a certain interview at my house between yourself and Dr. C. T. Jack- 
son, and' of the impression I received at the time, I would reply that 
I distinctly recollect the intervievi^ alluded to. The article you were 
about to publish was submitted to Dr. Jackson, and the latter part, at 
least, where alone any objectionable expressions were supposed to lie, 
was read by him, after which I received no other impressions than that 
he found nothing to object to. One passage was excluded, which it was 
thought might have some bearing on the question of discovery, and 
I think at his suggestion. 

Yours truly, 


Mr. Eddy's letter referred to in Dr. Bigelow's letter : 

Boston, July 12, 1852. 

Dr. H. J. BiGELow: 

Dear Sir : In reply to your request to me to state what I recollect in 
relation to a conference you had with Dr. C. T. Jackson one Sunday 
evening at the house of Dr. A. A. Gould, and on the subject of a paper 
you was preparing for publication in the Boston Medical Journal, which 
paper was subsequently, within a few days after, published, and treated 
of the recent discovery of the application of ether to annul pain in surgi- 
cal operations, I would remark that I was present at such interview, 
that the article you had proposed was exhibited to Dr. Jackson, who 
carefully examined it, and after suggesting, or their having been sug- 
gested, some trifling changes in it, he expressed his entire satisfaction 
with it, and willingness that it should be published. I afterwards read 
the article as it appeared in the Medical. Journal, and so far as my re- 
collection serves me, I perceived nothing in it differing from Avhatit was 
decided to be satisfactory to Dr. Jackson on the said evening. 

Yours respectfully, 

R. H. EDDY. 

Dr. Jackson, in his letter to Baron Von Humbolt, says: 

"I at once appealed to the public, destroyed the bond given me b}' 

Mr. Morton, and made the use of ether in surgical operations free to all 


The transaction of deslroying the bond is somewhat ludicrous. 

On the morning of the 26th May, 1847, more than five months after 
the patent had been taken out, after it had for some time become un- 
available, and Dr. Morton had lost a good deal of money by it. Dr. Gay 
called at Dr. Morton's office, with a young gentleman in his company, and 
somewhat dramatically cancelled the bond. This was the bond that 


secured to Dr. Jackson ten per cent, on tlie net profits of the American 
patent. On the same day, the anniversary of the Massachusetts Medi- 
cal Society took place, and at the dinner in the afternoon. Dr. Jack- 
son made a speech, in which he claimed to have been entirely disinter- 
ested in his connection with the discovery, and said he had destroyed 
the bond. He did not say that he had destroyed it that morning, just in 
season for the speech ; but we are permitted to infer, that it was des- 
troyed at -a time when it had some value. 

The inconsistency between these-late claims for disinterestedness on- 
the part of Dr. Jackson, and his unremitted efforts to obtain the utmost 
possible pecuniary advantage from the discovery, so long as there was 
any chance of its being profitable, is apparent to all. 

So long as the discovery was under test, and its result was uncertain, 
Dr. Jackson is unseen and unheard. When it became evident, from the 
two experiments at the hospital, that the discovery was of value, at the 
close of October, Dr. Jackson first appears, and then only for the purpose 
of claiming compensation of Dr. Morton for professional advice. He ac- 
cepts five hundred dollars. His friend obtains for him ten per cent, of 
the net profits of the American patent. He next refuses to sign the 
European papers without receiving ten per cent, on the foreign patents. 
From this he rises to twenty per cent., and on the 28th of January he 
claims " twenty-five per cent., both at home and abroad, as the least that 
in justice" can be offered him ; and his counsel, of course with his sanc- 
tion, speaks of the patent as one which "if sustained, promises to give 
to all parties large sums of money for their united co-operation." He 
opens negotiations with Dr. Morton, through Mr. Hays, for obtaining a 
joint patent in France, by the instrumentality of M. De Beaumont, whose 
letters to Dr. Jackson on this point were shown to Dr. Morton. After 
all hope of pecuniary benefit from the patent is at an end, he cancels 
the bond, and, with a strange forgetfulness of all his previous conduct, 
comes out in the character of one who disdains pecuniary compensa- 
tion. Not only so, but he seems determined that Dr. Morton shall re- 
ceive no compensation. On the 20th November, 1847, the physicians 
and surgeons of the hospital (with one exception) prepared a memorial 
to Congress, setting forth the importance of this diseovery,.and praying 
the government to make a payment "to those persons who shall be 
found, on investigation, to merit compensation," on condition that the pa- 
tent be given up. Knowing that this would result in an official inquiry 
into the discovery, Dr. Morton promoted it to the utmost of his power. 
Dr. Jackson on the other hand, remonstrated against it, on the professed 
ground that he would submit his claims to no tribunal, and that, as the 
sole discoverer, he wished no reward beyond the gratitude of mankind. 

It is well known that an effort was made in London, by subscription, 
for a donation to the discoverer of the effects of ether. By letters to gen- 
tlemen in this country from friends in London, we are informed that a 
sum, estimated at £10,000, was considered as secured. But the con- 
troversy and doubt created by Dr. Jackson's communications to the 
French Academy caused it to be abandoned. 

Dr. Jackson speaks of Dr. Morton in terms of great bitterness. He 
assails his private character, declaring that it is infamous, and that in 
knowledge and inlellect he is an ignoramus and an imbecile, not only 
not possessed of science, but mentally incapable of acquiring it ; and 


that, while administering his anaesthetic vapor to the patients at the 
hospital, he was offensive to the faculty by reason of ignorance and 
quackery. Much of his letter to Baron Von Humboldt, which he has 
filed before your committee as his answer, for this reaso i, would not be 
suffered to remain on the files of a court of chancery, but would be 
stricken out for scandal and impertinence. Your committee utterly re- 
fused, as stated above, to receive evidence of general character, or of par- 
ticular accusation or defence for or against either of the parties, not relev- 
ant to the issue. But as the charges advanced by Dr. Jackson against Dr. 
Morton in the letter above, must remain on the files of the House, and be 
printed with the proceedings of the committee, they deem it but just to say 
that these charges are not only not supported by, but are utterly incon- 
sistent with, the current proofs in this case. And they think it proper to 
refer to the letters herewith published of Drs. Warren, Hayward, Bige- 
low, and Townsend, Surgeons of the Massachusetts General Hospital, 
for conclusive evidence of his capability to conduct the experiments; to 
the following testimonial by the Trustees of that Institution for the esti- 
mation in which they and the public generally held his services: to the 
cetificates and diploma for medical qualifications on pages 19, 20, and to 
the letters fi-om two of the Ex-Governors of his State and the Ma5-or of 
the city in which he resides, for the estimation in which he is held at home : 

"Boston, May 12, 1848. 

," Dear Sir : At a meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Massachu- 
setts General Hospital, a few weeks since, it was informally suggested, 
that a limited subscription of one thousand dollars shall be raised for your 
benefit, in acknowledgment of your services in the late ether-discovery; 
no one to be asked to subscribe more than ten dollars. We consented 
to act as a Committee to receive and apply tlie proceeds of this subscrip- 
tion. The proposed sum having been obtained, we have now the plea- 
sure of transmitting it to you. We also enclose the subscription book 
in a casket which accompanies this note. Among its signatures you 
will find the names of not a few of those most distinguished among us 
for worth and intelligence ; and it may be I'emarked, that it is signed by 
every member of the Board of Trustees. 

"You will, we are sure, highly value this Jirsi testimonial, slight as it 
is, of the gratitude of your fellow-citizens. That you may hereafter 
receive an adequate national reward is the sincere wish of your obedi- 
ent servants, ^ 


"THOS. B. cuims. 

" To Dr. William T. G. Morton." 

The box accompanying this note had upon it the following inscrip- 
tion : In front, "Testimonial in honor of the Ether Discovery of Sept. 
30, 1846." And on the lid, "This box, containing one thousand dollars, 
is presented to William Thomas Green Morton by the members of the 
Board of Trustees of the Massachusetts General Hospital, -and other 
citizens of Boston, May 8, 1848." 

Letter from Governor Briggs, 

" Council Chamber, Boston, Jan. 12, 1840. 

"Dear Cohwin: Allow me to introduce to your acquaintance Dr. 
Morton, of this city, whose name the world knows as the discoverer of 


the application of ether to alleviate pain. An application to Congress 
for some compensation for the discovery is to be made. May I ask you, 
for the doctor, who thus far, thouj?h he has relieved thousands of others 
from suffering, has had nothing but suffering himself as his reward, to 
look at his case, and if you find it has merits, give it your support. 

"* Sincerely and truly yours, 


" Hon. Thos. Corwin." 

Letter f rom Governor Morton. 

"Boston, January 12, 1849. 

" Dear Sir : I am happy to have the opportunity of presenting to 
your acquaintance Dr. W. T. G. Morton, of this city. Dr. M., who by 
reputation is doubtless known to you, has the distinction to have his 
name identified with one of the most important discoveries of modern 
times — the application of ether as an agent for producing insensibility 
to pain in surgical operatipns. His object, as I understand, in visiting 
Washington at this time is' to endeavor to procure from Congress some 
recognition of the value of his discovery. I beg leave to recommend 
him to your kind attention. 

" I am, very respectfully, your friend and servant, 

" To Hon. Thos. H. Benton. MARCUS MORTON." 

Letter from Mayor Bigeloio. 

"Boston, December 9, 1848. 

"Sir: I avail myself of the honor which I had of making your ac- 
quaintance last season, during your visit to Boston, to introduce to you 
my friend, Dr. Morton, the discoverer of the effect of ether in producing 
insensibility to pain, a discovery which has placed him in the front rank 
of the benefactors of the human race. He visits Washington in the 
hope of obtaining some recognition on the part of Congress of the value 
of his discovery, and has already secured the favorable consideration of 
some of the members. Your assistance in the matter would be in 
keeping with your well known and enlightened philanthropy, and would 
be gratefully appreciated. 

"I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant, 


" Hon. Isaac E. Holmes." 

The claim in behalf of Dr. Wells rests on his experiments with nitrous 
oxide, referred to by your committee in the early part of their report. He 
had the merit of attempting to carry out practically the idea suggested 
by Sir Humphrey Davy, of rendering by its influence a patient insensi- 
ble to pain in a surgical operation. He has also undoubtedly the merit 
of having contributed something in directing the mind of Dr. Morton to 
the subject, and thus aided in conferring this great boon upon mankind. 
Originally he did not claim for himself the honor of the discovery, but 
merely of the attempt, which he admitted to have been fruitless. 

The letter of Dr. Morton announcing his discovery and the reply of 
•Dr. Wells, together with the letter of R. H. Eddy, dated February 17, 
1847, prove this. They are as follows; ' 

„ " BosTOit, Ocioher 19, 184G, 

l<Bii2N0 Wells— Der/r -Sir; I write to inform you that I have dis- 
covered a preparation, by inhaling which, a person is thrown into sound 
sleep. The time required to produce sleep is only a few momeirts, and 
the time in which persons remain asleep can be regulated at pleasure. 
While in this state the severest surgical or dental operations may be per- 
formed, the patient not experiencing the slightest pain. I have perfected 
it, and am now about sen-ding out agents to dispose of the right to use it. 
I will dispose of a right to an individual to use it in his own practice alone, 
or for a town, county, or State. My object in writing you is to know if 
you would not like to visit New York and the other cities, and dispose 
of rights upon shares. I have used the compound in more than one 
hundred and sixty cases in extracting teeth, and I have been invited to 
administer to patients in the Massachusetts Genel-al Hospital, and have 
succeeded in ever}'^ case. 

"The Professors, Warren and Hayward, have given me written cer- 
tificates to this effect. I have administered it at the Hospital in the 
presence of the students and physicians — the room for operations being 
as full as possible. For further particulars I will refer you to extracts 
from the daily journals of this city, which I forward to you. 

"Respectfully yours, WM. T. G. MORTON." 

"Hartford, Connecticut, October 20, 1846. 

" Dr. Morton — Dear Sir : Your letter dated yesterday, is just received, 
and I hasten to answer it, for fear you will adopt a method in disposing 
of your rights, which will defeat your object. Before you make any ar- 
rangements whatever, I wish to see you. I think I will be in Boston the 
first ofnext week — probably Monday night. If the operation of admin- 
istering the gas is not attended with too much trouble, and will produce 
the effect you state, it will, undoubtedly, be a fortune to you, provided it 
is rightly managed. 

" Yours, in haste, H. WELLS." 

"Boston, February llth, 1847. 
"R. H. Dana, Esq — Dear Sir: In reply to your note of this morning, I 
have to state that about the time I was engaged in preparing the papers 
for the procuraJ of the patent, in the United States, on the discovery of 
Dr. Morton, for preventing pain in surgical operations, by the inhalation 
of the vapor of sulphuric ether, I was requested by Dr. Morton to call at his 
office to have an interview with the late Dr. Horace Wells, who was then 
on a visit to this city, and who, Dr. Morton thought, might be able to ren- 
der him valuable advice and assistance in regard to the mode of dispos- 
ing of privileges to use the discovery. Accordingly I had an interview 
with Dr. Wells. During such meeting we conversed fi-eely on the dis- 
covery and in relation to the experiments Dr. Welts had been witness to 
in the office of Dr. Morton. The details of our conversation I do not 
recollect sufficiently to attempt to relate them, but the' whole of it, and 
the manner of Dr. Wells at the time, led me, in no respect, to any sus- 
p'icion that he (Dr. Wells) had ever before been aware of the then dis- 
covered effect of ether in annulling pain during a surgical opei-ution. 
Dr. Wells doubted the ability of Dr. Morton to procure a patent, not on 
the ground that ke (Dr. Morton) was not the first and original discov- 
erer, but that he (Dr. Wells) believed the discovery was not a legal, sub- ^ 


lect for a patent. He advised bim, however, to make application for 
one and to dispose of as many licenses as he could while such applica- 
tion mio-ht be pending; in fact, to make as much money out of the dis- 
covery as he could while the excitement in regard to it might last. I 
must confess that when, some time afterwards, I heard of the preten- 
sions of Dr. Wells to be considered the discoverer of the aforementioned 
effect of ether, I was struck with great surprise, for his whole conversa- 
tion with me at the time of our interview, led me to the belief that he 
fully and entirely recognized the discovery to have been made by Dr. 
Morton, or at least partly by him and partly by Dr. C. T. Jackson, as I 
then supposed. 

" Respectfully yours, 

"R. H. EDDY." 

The evidence presented with Dr. Wells' claim shows that dental ope- 
rations were in several instances performed without pain by Dr. Wells 
under the influence of nitrous oxide, which had been before known in 
some cases to produce a total or partial asphyxia. It appears also 
that the vapor of sulphuric ether was thought of, discussed, and finally 
rejected by him — while the total abandonment of the use of nitrous 
oxide, and indeed of every other agent, shovi^s that Dr. Wells' expe- 
riments were, on the whole, unsuccessful. He engaged in the search 
and failed to find the object of his pursuit. He attempted and en- 
deavored assiduously to carry out the idea to practical results, but 
was not successful. There was great merit in the effort, but it proved 
a failure. 

Dr. Wells, therefore, in the opinion of your committee, is not entitled 
to the honor of the discovery. He stopped half way in the pursuit. He 
had the great idea of producing insensil)ility to pain, but he did not verify 
it by successful experiments. He mistook the means, and he unfortu-. ■ 
nately rejected the true anaesthetic agent as dangerous to life, and there- ♦ 
fore did not make the discovery and give it to mankind. He did what 
Dr. Beddoes, ISir Humphrey Davy, and Dr. Townsend had done about 
the close of the last century, but nothing more. 

But he had the signal merit of reviving the investigation, and, pro- 
bably, of hastening the discovery. If an idea connected with the sub- 
ject lay dormant in the mind of any one, his attempt was well calcula- 
ted to awaken it into life. When in the fall of 1844 he made his pub- 
lic attempt, in Boston, to produce aucBSthesia during a dental operation, 
by the use of nitrous oxide, if Dr. Jackson had indeed made and per- 
fected this discovery, and felt an abiding confidence in its truth, who can 
doubt that he would have availed himself of that occasion, or have been 
reminded by it, to make tor himself another, at an early day, of publicly 
exhibiting and testing the true anEcsthetic agent?* 

The question of. discovery, which your committee has thus endeavor- 
ed to examine, was every way proper to be tried and settled by intelli- 
gent men, as ajury of the vicinage, which vi'as proposed by Dr. Morton and 
refused by Dr. Jackson. (See Appendix.) But it was finally tried by a 
most appropriate tribunal— the Trustees of the Massachusetts General 
Hospital, at which the first public exhibition ot this pain-destroying power 
was made, and where its effects were first witnessed by an admiring audi- 
ence. The quest iort of discovery was tried before these men — trustees 
of a scientific corporation, to whom Dr. Jackson was well known as a 


distinguished member of the medical faculty, and to whom Dr. Morton, 
prior to the discovery, and the contest to which it led, was known only 
as a young man of energy and enterprize. And this Board, composed 
of men whose names would do honor to any scientific institution, pre- 
sently after the discovery, near the time and at the place where it oc- 
curred, gave by a unanimous voice its honor to Dr. Morton. One year 
after they reviewed their decision, at the request of Dr. Jackson, and 
unanimously confirmed it. In this connection your committee deem it 
proper to introduce a letter from the honorable Secretary of State: 

"Washington, December 20, 1851. 

"Dr. W. T. G. Morton — Dear Sir: In reply to your letter of the 17th 
Inst., I would say that, having been called on, on a previous occasion, to 
examine the question of the discovery of the application of ether in sur- 
gical operations, I then formed the opinion which 1 have since seen no 
reason to change, that the merit of that great discovery belonged to you, 
and I had supposed that the reports of the Trustees of the Hospital and 
of the Committee of the House of Representatives of the United States, 
were conclusive on this point. 

"The gentlemen connected with the hospital are well known to me 
as of the highest character, and they possessed at the time of the inves- 
tigation, every facility for ascertaining all the facts in the case. 

"The Committee of the House were, I believe, unanimous in award- 
ing to you the merit of having made the first practical application of 
ether, and a majority by their report, awai-ded to you the entire credit 
of the discovery. 

" Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 


Before this tribunal, neither time, place, or circumstance, permitted 
jDold and confident assertion to be mistaken for truth. With this award 
we think Dr. Jackson, Dr. Wells, and the scientific world should have 
been satisfied. It is, in the opinion of your committee, entitled to great 
weight. It was the first, and ought to have been the only contest. Our 
enlightened system of jurisprudence forbids, except under extraordinar}'- 
circumstances, a second trial of questions of fact. It forbids it, as a guard 
against the danger incident to repeated investigations, that truth will be 
overborne by artfully manufactured evidence. 

Therefore, even if the evidence before your committee rendered the 
question of fact doubtful, which it does not, they would hesitate long 
before they would overrule the decision of the Trustees of the Massachu- 
setts General Hospital. 

It is also a subject of much gratification to this committee, to be able 
to concur in the opinion of the former committee of the House, from 
whose very able report they have extracted so largely. They did not, 
however, feel themselves bound by either the one or the other, but gave 
the subject for themselves a full and careful consideration. But they 
are the more satisfied with the conclusions to which they have come, 
because of their concurrence with such high and unexceptionable au- 

Dr. Jackson appeals to the Academy of Arts and Sciences at Paris, 
and claims that that learned body has decided the question of discovery 
in his favor, by awarding him the "Monthyon prize for the greatest 


medical discovery," and that their decision ought to be taken as final and 

Your committee, for obvious reasons, would at once bow to the deci- 
sion of that very learned society, (the centre and soul of scientific know- 
ledge in Europe,) as to the fact of discoverj% and that the honor of the 
discovery be.longed to America, and also as to its merit and value among 
the discoveries of the age. But on the question. Who was the disco- 
verer? their decision, if they made one, is entitled to much less weight. 
They are remote from the scene — had no means at an early day of pos- 
sessing themselves of the evidence — and we have already seen how 
the minds of the members of the Academy were pro-occupied by Dr. 
Jackson's sealed letter of November 13, 1846, and his letter of Decem- 
ber 1, directing the seal of the former letter to be broken. ' The tempo- 
rary secrecy, with the form and circumstance of the disclosure, together 
with his European reputation for science, were, in the absence of any 
conflicting evidence or claim, well calculated to make a first impression 
in his favor. 

But the Academy of Arts and Sciences at Paris did not, as it appears, 
award to Dr. Jackson the honor of the discovery, either directly or indi- 
rectly, by awarding him " the Monthyon prize for the greatest medical dis- 
covery." Your committee have inspected the official awardments, ex- 
hibited by the parties, and find that the award to Dr. Jackson was "o?ie 
of the prizes of medicine and surgery of the Monthyon foundation." 
And M. Alexander Vattemare, in his letter to Dr. Morton, (see App.,) 
gives an extract from the formal decision made by that learned bodj, 
"between these two celebrated contestants," as follows: 

"Mr. Jackson and Mr. Morton were necessary to each other. With- 
out the earnestness, the preconceived idea, the courage, not to say the 
audacity of the latter, the fact observed by Mr. Jackson might have long 
remain unapplied ; and but for the fact observed by Mr. Jackson, the 
idea of Mr. Morton might perhaps have been sterile and ineffectual ;" 
" consequently, (he proceeds,) there has been awarded a prize of_tvvo thou- 
sand five hundred francs to Mr, Jackson for his observations and expe- 
ments upon the anaesthetic eff'ects of sulphuric ether ; and another of two 
thousand five hundred francs likewise to Mr. Morton " for having intro- 
duced the method in surgical practice after the indications of Dr. 

Dr. Morton has, within a few days, received the expression of the 
Academy in the more acceptable form of Iheir largest gold medal. 
The prize awarded to him, as above stated, being of an amount not ab- 
sorbed-by the medal,, has been appropriately used in enclosing it in a 
suitable golden frame. On the one side of the medal, in addition to the 
name of the institute, is a medallion head of the Goddess of Liberty. 
On' the reverse, surrounded by a wreath of laurel is engraved — 

"Acaddmie des Sciences. Prix Montyon — Medicine et Chirurgie 

Concours de 1847 et 1848. Wm. T. G. Morton, 1850." 

Upon a full examination of the whole case so far as time and means 
were afforded to your committee, they have come to the conclusion 

1st. That Dr. Horace Wells did not make any discovery of the anes- 
thetic properties of the vapor of sulphuric ether, which he himself con- 
sidered reliable, and which he thought proper to give to the world. That 


his experiments were confined to nitrous oxide, but did not sliow it to 
be an efficient and relial)le anaesthetic agent, proper to be used in sur- 
gical operations and in obsterical cases. 

For the rest your Committee have come to the same conclusions that 
were arrived at by the Trustees of the Massachusetts General Hospital 
at their meeting in January, 1848, and reconsidered and confirmed in 
1849, and adopted by the former Committee of the House, viz : 

2nd. That Dr. Jackson does not ap-pear at any time lo have juude any 
discovery, in regard to ether, which was not in print in Great Britain 
some years before. 

3d. That Br. Morton, in 1846, discovered the facts, before unknown, 
that ether would prevent the pain of surgical operations ; and that it might 
be given in sufficient qu'mti'y to effect this purpose, without danger to 
life. He first established these facts by numerous operation.^ on teeth, and 
afterwards induced the surgeons of the hospital to demonstrate its general 
applicability and importance in capital operations. 

4th. That Dr. Jackson appears lo have had the belief that a. power in ether 
to prevent pain in dental operations would be discovered. He advised va- 
rious persons to attempt the discovery. But neither they nor he look any 
measures to that end ; and the world remained in entire ignorance of both 
the power and safety of ether, until Dr. Morton made his experiments. 

^th. That the whole agency of Dr. Jackson in the matter appears to 
consist only in his having made certain suggestions, which aided Dr. 
Morton to make the discovery — a discovery which had for some time been 
the object of his labors and researches. 

Though it was but "a single step, and that a short one," from the 
daily walks of science to this great discovery, yet the scientific world 
admits that the step was never taken prior to the 30th of September, 
1846: and the discovery, when in fact made, was instantly appreciated 
and hailed by the surgical profession with the most exalted enthusiasm, 
almost with shouts of rapture. In a letter written fresh on ibe verifica- 
tion of the discovery in England, the grave and sedate Listen says: 

. " Hurrah ! 

"Rejoice! Mesmerism, and its professors have met with a 'heavy 
blow, and great discouragement.' An American dentist has used ether, 
(inhalation of it) to destroy sensation in his operations, and the plan has 
succeeded in the hands of Warren, Hayward, and others, in Boston. 
Yesterday, I amputated a thigh, and removed by revulsion, both sides of 
the great toe nail, without the patient's being aware of what was doing, 
so far as regards pain. The amputation-man heard, he says, what we 
said, and was conscious, but felt neither the pain of the incisions, nor 
that of tying the vessels. In short, he had no sensation of pain in the 
operating theatre. I mean to use it to-day, in a case of stone. In six 
months no operation will be performed without this previous prepara- 
tion.* It must be carefully set about. The ether must be washed, and 
purified of its sulphureous acid and alcohol. Shall I desire Squire, a 
most capital and ingenious chemist, to send yon a tool for the purpose? 
It is only the bottom of Nooth's apparatus, with a sort of funnel above, 
with bits of sponge, and, at the other hole, a flexible tube. Rejoice ! 

"Thine always, R. L." 

* Of course, this is not to be considered as Mr. Liston's deliberate opinion; but just tlie first flash 
of enthusiasm, at once natural and becoming, in the circumstances. 


Mr. Velpeau, one of the most eminent surgeons of Paris, in his trea- 
tise on medical operations in 1839, says : 

"To avoid pain in surgical operations is a chimera which it is not al- 
lowable to pursue at the present day. The cutting instrument and 
pain in operative medicine, are two words which never present them- 
selves singly to the mind of the patient, and of which we must necessa- 
rily admit the association." 

But in a communication to the Acadehiy of Arts and Sciences at Paris, 
on the 27lh of January, 1847, he speaks thus : 

"I desire that the question of priority be immediately laid aside; it 
does not appear, in effect, to have any foundation. To say that some 
one has stupefied, or put to sleep some dogs or hens, is nothing to the 
purpose ; for this action of ether has been known fifteen, twenty, thirty 
years and more. The Dictionaries of Medicine, Treatises on Medical 
jurisprudence — that of M. Orfila, and the toxology of the last author 
in particular — indicate it formally. That which is new, is the proposi- 
tion to render the patient totally insensible to pain, under a surgical ope- 
ration, by means of inspirations of ether." 

And the venerable and sage Dr. Warren, in his work on etherization, 
speaks in -the following impressive and exalted strain: 

"A new era has opened to the operating surgeon ! His visitations on 
the most delicate parts are performed, not only without the agonizing 
screams he has been accustomed to hear, but sometimes with a state of 
perfect insensibility, and occasionally even with the expression of plea- 
sure on the part of the patient. Who could have imagined that draw- 
ing the knife over the delicate skin of the face might produce a sensa- 
tion of unmixed delight ! that the turning and twisting of instruments in 
the most sensitive bladder might be accompanied by a beautiful dream ! 
that the contorting of anchylosed jteints should co-exist with a celestial 
vision ! If Ambrose Par(§, and Louis, and Dessault, and Chesselden, 
and Hunter, and Cooper, could see what our eyes daily witness, how 
would they long to come among us, and perform their exploits once 
more ! And with what fresh vigor does the living surgeon, who is ready- 
to resign the scalpel, grasp it, and wish again to go through his career 
under the new auspices !" 

The question of who was the discoverer, being thus, as the committee 
trust, placed beyond dispute, they turn their attention next to the value 
of the discovery. 

It supplies a desideratum long sought by surgeons, for the relief of the 
excruciating pain they were necessarily obliged to inflict in the practice 
of_ their profession. They had, as heretofore stated, vainly attempted 
this relief by the use of opiates, extract of hemp, mesmerism, &c.; but 
none fulfilled the desired purpose; and their suggestion of the necessity 
to life or limb of an operation, was apparently ever doomed to be ac- 
conripanied with the, to many, all absorbing feeling of terror of the pain 
which there was no known means of avoiding. Dread of pain has not 
unfrequently deterred from submission to operations necessary to the pre- 
servation of life. In other cases where this dread was overcome, and 
the operation performed, the severity of the suffering, and the shock to 
the system have been large elements in the production of a fatal result. 



Since the introduction of etherizntion, both the patient and surgeon ap- 
proach the operation with feelings entirely different from those for- 
merly entertained under similar circumstances. The latter is relieved 
from the necessity of witnessing those manifestations of pain which his 
instruments formerly produced, and to become indifferent to which 
he must be more or less than human ; while the former looks only to the 
end to be attained — the restoration to health — there being no interme- 
diate pain to excite his dread, and fix his exclusive attention. For 
screaming, and struggles, and intense suffering under the surgeon's 
knife, etherization has svibstituted more or less complete exemption fi-om 
pain, associated in some with the quietude, mental and corporeal, of 
deep sleep ; in others, with pleasing dreams, imaginary busy scenes, and 
sweet music ; and in others, with a perfect consciousness of surround- 
ing objects and events, making the patient, perhaps, not among the least 
calm or most anxious spectators of the operation. 

And its benefits are by no means confined to surgical patients and 
surgical practice. The obstetrician finds in it the means of alleviating 
that distress with which woman has ever heretofore been cursed, when 
in the act of becoming a mother. And who would not hail with delight, 
any means of ministering comfort to her who bears the hoi}' name of 
mother? To the physician it affords one of the most useful, as it is one 
of his most prompt remedies. He, too, is often compelled to be the spec- 
tator of severe pain and distress, for the alleviation of which his before 
known remedies were powerless. He, before, had no reliable means of 
relieving the spasms of tetanus ; he not unfrequently failed to procure 
sleep in delirium tremens, when the question is one of sleep or death; his 
before palliative remedy (opium) for the pain of colic, too often purchas- 
ed temporary relief at the expense of an aggravation of the cause of the 
disease, and of increased difficulties in its cure ; and he occasionally wit- 
nessed the breaking up of the system of a neuralgic patient, more as a 
consequence of the repeated large <foses of opium to which he was con- 
strained to resort for the mitigation of his paroxysms, during the slow 
progress of curative remedies, than of the disease itself. But an enu- 
meration of all, or of any considerable number of the cases in which he 
finds it: useful, nay indispensable, is neither required, nor would it be 
proper in a paper of this character. 

It is no answer to this to allege that the discovery is capable of injury, 
or mischief. Ignorance of the proper use of anything leads to its abuse ; 
and what is not abused, the use of which depends upon human judgment? 
Being of indispensable value to all, as all are liable to require its use, 
the committee deem the .discoverer entitled to reward, as a benefactor of 
the human race. But his application rests not solely on that ground. 
The discovery is used by the United States Government, in the army and 
navy, and for that use the Government is clearly bound to compensate 
him ; especially as they secured to him the use of the discovery by 
letters patent. Dr. Jackson having first assigned his claim to Dr. Mor- 
ton. The committee have thought proper to annex the following ex- 
tracts from the records of the Patent Office : 

" I have therefore, in consideration of one dollar, to me in hand paid, the 
receipt whereof I do hereby acknowledge, asssigned, set over and con- 


veyed, and by these presents do assign, set over and convey to the said 
Morton and his legal representatives, all the right, title and interest 
whatever which I possessed in the said invention or discovery, a speci- 
cation of which I have this day signed and executed in conjunction with 
him, for the purpose of enabling him to procure a patent thereon. 

" And I do hereby request the Commissioner of Patents to issue the 
said patent to the said Morton in his name and as my a.ssignee or legal 
representative to the extent of all my right, title and interest whatever 
in the said invention or discovery. 

" In testimony whereof I have hereto set my signature and affixed my 
seal, this twenty-seventh day of October, one thousand eight hundred 
and forty-six. 


" (Witness :) R. H. Eddy." 

" United States Patent Office. 

"Received this 10th day of November, 1846, and recorded in liber F 
1, page 118, of Transfers ot Patent Rights. 

" In testimony whereof, I have caused the seal of the Patent Office to 
be hereunto affixed. 


" Commissioner of Patents." 

No. 4,848. 

The 'United States of America. 

To all to wJiom these letters -patent shall come : 

"These are therefore to grant, according to law, the said Wm. T. G. 
Morton, his heirs, administrators, or assigns, for the term of fourteen 
years from the 12th day of November, 1846, the full and exclusive right 
and liberty of making, constructing, using, and vending to others to be 
used, the said improvement." 

Numerous instances have occurred, to which your committee beg 
leave to refer, in which compensation in money has been made by Con- 
gress, as a reward for like discoveries, of less importance to the country 
and mankind, namely : 


Tucker and Judge. — For the construction of anchors for the Navy, 
Statutes at Large, vol. 6, page 659, $1,500. 

Daniel Pettibone. — For the use of circular bullet moulds, Statutes at 
Large, vol. 6, page 833, 85,000. 

Boyd Reilly. — For the use of gas in vapor baths. Statutes at Large, 
vol. 6, page 904, $5,000. 

William H. Bell. — For elevating heavy cannon, and for pointing the 
same. Statutes at Large, vol. 5, page 126, $20,000. 

Isaac Babbit. — For the right of use of the patent anti-antrition metal, 
Statutes at Large, vol. 5, pages 547 and 036, $20,000. 

Heirs of Robert Fulton. — For the benefits conferred upon the country 
by his improvements in navigation by steam, Statutes at Large, vol. 9, 
page 660, $76,300. 


Anne M. T. Mix, widow of M. P. Mix.— For the purchase of Mix's 
manger stopper, Statutes at Large, vol. 9, page 82, 83,000. 

Doctor Locke. — For the free use by the United States of his invention 
of the magnetic clock. Statutes at Large, vol. 9, page 374, $10,000. 

R. S. McCuUoh and .Tames C. Boothe. — To purchase the right to use 
the improved methods of refining argentiferous gold bullion. Statutes at 
Large, vol. 9, page 530, $25,000. 


Samuel Colt. — Submarine battery, Statutes at Large, vol. 5, page 584 ■ 

Sarah F. Mather. — Submarine telescope, Statutes at Large, vol. 5, 
page 067, 82,000. 

S. F. B. Morse. — Electro magnetic-telegraph, Statutes at Large, vol. 
5, page 618, $30,000. 

For testing inventions for preventing explosion of steam boilers, Sta- 
tutes at Large, vol. 5, page 793, $5,000. 

Earle. — For the preservation of canvass. Statutes at Large, 

vol. 9, page 170, $5,000. 

Uriah Brown.— For testing steam fire ships, and shot proof steamships. 
Statutes at Large, vol. 9. page 173, $10,000. 

James Crutchett. — For testing solar gas lights and erecting fixtures. 
Statutes at Large, vol. 9, page 207, $17,500. 

Isherwood. — For testing light for lighthouses, Statutes at 

Large, vol. 9, page 323, $6,000. 

Charles G. Page. — To test the capacity apd usefulness of electro-mag- 
netic power for the purposes of navigation and locomotion. Statutes at 
Large, vol. 9, page 375, $20,000. 

' Though fully satisfied of the value of the discovery, the committee 
thought it not proper to act upon their own unaided opinions. The chair- 
man addressed circulars to the different hospitals, to medical institutions, 
to- many of the most eminent phj'sicians and surgeons in the United 
States, (see appendix,) and to the surgeons of the army and nav}-. The 
answers to these are very numerous; too much so, and too lengthy for 
publication, but have been perused, and their contents carefuU}'^ noticed 
by the committee. Only two of this mass of letters speak disparagingly 
of the discovery, and one of those does not profess to speak from the 
writer's own observation. The committee annex extracts (see appendix.) 
from some of these answers, and a few entire letters, exhibiting the gene- 
ral opinion of the value of the discovery — its value being indisputable, 
and almost universally acknowledged, it was not deemed necessary to 
multiply extracts in its proof — and exhibiting likewise, the use of the dis- 
covery in the army and navy. 

The committee would likewise call particular attention to the follow- 
ing letters from the Surgeon General and Staff, and the Chief of the 
Bureau of Medicine and Surgery and Assistant, addressed to Dr. Mor- 
ton, and which were laid before the committee : 

"Surgeon General's Office, March 1, 1852. 
"Sir: In compliance with your verbal request to be furnished with in- 
formation in regard to the employment of anaesthetic agents in the army 



of the United States, and also for an expression of opinion as to the 
value and importance of this class of remedial agents, I have to state : 

"That sulphuric ether and chloroform were used to some extent in the 
military hospitals established at the theatre of war in Mexico, but the 
use of those articles was not so general as at present, for the reason that 
the apparatus at that .time believed to be essential to their and 
safe administration, was not adapted to service in the field. 

"At the present moment it is believed that no surgical operation of im- 
portance is performed by the medical officers of the army without the 
aid of some anaesthetic agent. 

"Previous to the discovery of this new application of sulphuric ether, 
the annual supply of that medicine was one pound for every hundred 
men. Qn the revision of the standard supply table, by a board of medi- 
cal officers, in 1849, the pure washed sulphuric ether, was substitiited 
for the ordinary sulphuric ether, and tire quantity allowed was increased 
one hundred per cent. . At the same time another aneesthetic agent, the 
tincture of chloroform, commonly called chloric ether, was added to the 
supply table, and is now regularly furnished to the medical officers in 
such quantities as, in.connexion with the sulphuric'ether; will saffice- to 
meet all the demands of the service in this particular. 

"Although the discovery of this new therapeutic effect of sulphuric 
ether has led to the introduction and employment of other- anaesthetic 
agents, this does not in any way militate against the merits of the ori- 
ginal discovery, which I regard as one of the most important and valu- 
able contributions to medical science, and to the relief of ■suffering hu- 
.manity, which has ever been made, the only discovery to be compared 
therewith being that of vaccination, which has rendered the name of 
Jenner immortal. 

"Through the influence of these remedial agents, the surgeon is not • 
only enabled to perform the most extensive and difficult operations, un- 
disturbed by the cries and' struggles of ^ the patient, but what is of far 
greater impt)rtance, the patient being rendered insensible, escapes that 
shock to the nervous system, which" in itself is not un frequently fatal. 
For this reason operations can now be performed with much more safety 
than heretofore, and that too, in cases in which the attempt to perform 
them would have been forbidden by the general condition of the patient. 

"To the ph3rsician this class of remedial agents promises to be of the 
greatest utility, though their application in the treatment of disease has 
yet to be more fully developed. 

"It will suffice at this time to allude to their employment for the relief 
of suffering woman in the hour of her greatest trial, and ait thte moment 
she claims our warmest sympathies. That these agents can be safely 
used in parturition, so as to affiard full and entire exemption from pain 
to the mother, and with safety both to her and to the child, has been 
amply demonstrated. 

"In conclusion, permit me to congratulate you upon the flattering tes- 
timonial you have received from the National Institute of France, for 
this discovery, and to express the hope, that inasmuch as it is impossible 
for you to derive any pecuniary benefit therefrom in ordinary course by 
letters patent, you may receive from your country that acknowledgment of 


your merit, which is due to one who has conferred so great a boon upon 

I am very respectfully, your obedient servant, 
W. T. G: Morton, M. :D., TH. LAWSON, 

Brown's Hotel, Washington, D. C. Surgeon General. 

"Surgeon General's Office, March 10, 1852. 

" Sir : The undersigned' take pleasure in adding their testimony to the 
mass of evidence you have already accumulated in regard to the value 
and importance of the discovery of the anaesthetic properties of sulphuric 
ether, and the consequent intt-oduetion of a new class of remedial agents 
into the practice of medicine and surgery. 

"The more general and important advantages which surgeons and 
physicians, as, well as patients, have derived frorh this great discovery, 
are so fully yet concisely set forth in the communication addressed to 
you a few days since by the Surgeon General, as to need no repetition 
here, and we therefore prefer alluding'to an application of this class of 
remedial agents; which, so far as we have seen, has not been mentioned 
by your correspondents. 

" We refer to their employment in the arm)'' and navj' for the detection 
of feigned diseases. The consummate art ofttimes displayed bj' malin- 
gerers who are desirous of procuring their discharges from the service, 
or to escape unpleasant duty, is such as not unfrequently to baffle the 
skill of the most experienced medical officers. It is not enough in 
these cases to suspect that disease is feigned — humanity requires that 
the fact of malingering he proved, before the kind offices of the physi- 
cian are refused. In many instances the use of anaesthetic agents will 
afford this positive proof, and although we do not recommend or advo- 
cate their employment for this purpose as a general rule, we neverthe- 
less believe that in some cases it is the duty of the medical officer to 
resort to them, to satisfy his doubts. 

"In illustration of the foregoing remarks, we refer you to the enclosed 
copies of proceedings instituted in this office in January, 1849, in the 
case of Charles Lanke, formerly a private of artillerj', who applied for 
a pension on account of alleged anchylosis of the knee joint, and to 
whom the sulphuric ether was administered by yourself, in the presence 
of Dr. Edwards, of Ohio, and several other members of Congress. 

" Very respectfullv, your obedient servant, 


Surgeon U. S. Army. 

" Ass't Surgeon U. S. Army. 

" W. T. G. Morton, M. D., 

" Brown's Hotel, Washington, D. C" 

" Surgeon General's Office, January 22, 1 849. 

"Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of 
the 18th instant, by the hands of Charles Lanke, formerly a soldier in 
the army, who has been charged with malingering." 

" In accordance with your desire, I caused a careful examination to 
be made by two medical officers of the army, whose report is here- 
with enclosed. 

86 « 

" As the most reliable means of ascertaining the true condition of 
this man's limb, these gentlemen endeavored to place him in a state of 
insensibiliti/, by the inhalation of washed sulphuric ether. The cause of 
their failure in rendering him insensible-, is explained in their report; 
and I may also add, that during the short time I was called to be present, 
I had good reason to think that the man strongly resisted the efforts of 
the two medical gentlemen to render him insensible. 

" Lanke has again been here this morning with an interpreter, and 
has had explained to him that whenever he shall consent to be rendered 
insensible, and it is found that his knee joint still remains immovable, 
he shall have the benefit of a certificate to that effect. 

"Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 
"By order: . H. L. HEISKELL, 

" Surgeon U. S. Army. 

" Hon. Charles Brown, House of Reps.'''' 

"Surgeon 'General's Office, January 20, 1849. 
"Sir: In compliance with your instructions we have made a careful 
examination of the alleged disability of Charles Lanke, formerly a pri- 
vate of Captain Sherman's company of 3d artillery, and beg leave to 
report : 

" That we can find no mark of severe injury received on his knee, no 
deep cicatrix of the integuments, and no scarification, &c., such as would 
have been made in the course of treatment for an inflammation of the 

" We can find no evidences of any injury to the bones, and express our 
doubt whether a simple contusion would have caused such a permanent 
stiffness of the joint. 

"As the only means at our disposal to test the question of malingering, 
we endeavored to place him under the influence of the washed sulphuric 
ether, in order to create insensibility to our manipulations. 

"This we were unable to do, the patient evidently resisting by hold- 
ing his breath, &c., and when apparently about to fall under its influ- 
ence, refusing to breathe it at all, by pushing the assistant from him, 
when about to add an additional supply of ether. 

" We feel fully persjuaded that the patient did use considerable mus- 
cular force and an evident eflbrt of will to resist the bending of the limb, 
in the course of the experiment. 

" As the result of our examination we would respectfully submit the 
following opinion, that we do not think that we should be justified in 
giving a certificate of disability to Charles Lanke ; but still there being 
a bare possibility that injustice may be done the man, we are willing to 
repeat the trial by ether, which is truly an " oxperimentum crucis," 
whenever the applicant lor pension shall state his readiness (o submit. 

"R. H. CqOLlDGE. 

" Assist. Surgeon U. S. Army, 
" Assist. Surgeon U. S. Army. 

"Dr. H. L. Heiskell, Surgeon U. S, Army" 


"Surgeon General's Office, January 26, 1849. 

"Sm : 1 hfive the honor to inform you that Charles Lanke, having ex- 
pressed his willingness to be rendtired insensible by ether, that article 
was this day administered to him by Dr. Morton, of Massachusetts, in 
the presence of Dr. Edwards, and a number of other members of Con- 
gress and medical gentlemen. 

" Having come fully under its influence, the limb was completely 
flexed without force, proving conclusively that the stifl'ness of the knee- 
joint was altogether feigned. 

"From the mingled distress and surprise exhil)ited by Lanke on re- 
covering his consciousness, at seeing his leg bent at a right angle with 
the thigh, it was apparent that the sudden recovery of the motion of 
his knee-joint was anything else than welcome. 

"Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

"By order: H. L. HEISKELL, 

" 8urgeon U. S. Army. 

" Hon. Chs. BroWn, House of Reps." . 

" Surgeon General's Office, February 21th, 1852. 

" Sir : It affords me pleasure to bear testimony to the high value of 
anaesthetic agents, both in the practice of surgery and medicine. 

"I consider it the greatest improvement of the century. It is now an 
indispensable agent in the alleviation of pain during surgical operations, 
and in the amelioration of many distressing symptoms and diseases of daily 
occurrence. Its many uses are only beginning to be appreciated by the 
medical profession, and it is impossible to say what limits may be placed 
to its employment. Too much cannot be said in praise of this class of 
remedial agents. 

"Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 


" Assistant Surgeon U. S. Army. 

" Dr. W. T. G. Morton." 

"Navy Department, Bureau op Medicine and Surgerv, 

" February 26, 1852, 

" Sir : As the views of this bureau are desired in regard to the import- 
ance attached to the different ancESthetic agents by the medical officers 
of the navy, it gives me pleasure to expre-s the high sense entertained 
by them of their great utility, not only in surgical practice, but as pow- 
erful ao-ents in many painful affections, which have resisted the ordinary 
remedies. This opinion is strengthened by the concurrent testimony of 
the ablest civil practioners of our own country, with the emphatic en- 
dorsement of their value, by the best British and continental surgeons. 
In the absence of statistical information, accurately made up, it is some- 
what difficult to estimate the relative value of these ethcrial prepara- 
tions ; but if the recorded opinions of professional men. as expressed in 
the various medical journals of this country and Europe, are deemed of 
any weight, the discovery of etherization as a means of avoiding pain in 


severe surgical operations, may be considered the most important, in a 
philanthropic view, which this century has produced. 

"The observation that exhilirating efiects resulted IVom the inhala- 
tion of ether is no recent acquisition to medical science ; but the novelty 
and gist of this discovery consists in finding that nervous perception is 
suspended under the influence of the etherial inhalation, and while so 
suspended, the patient is unconscious of pain while under the operation 
of the knife. 

" In addition to the great benefit derived from its use in alleviating 
pain, it has a decided effect in dimini.shing mortality. Its advantage in 
this respect appears to be in saving the system from the severe shock 
and nerv6us exhaustion which attend most of the graver surgical opera- 
tions, and which of themselves often prove fatal. 

"It dispels the fear of pain, which formerly prevented many from sub- 
mitting to an operation, or induced them to defer it until too late. 

"It enables the surgeon, also, to operate more coolly and efi^ectually, 
undisturbed by the cries and struggles of the patient, which sometimes 
unnerve the steadiest hand, and render abortive the best directed ellorts. 

" The medal of the first class, awarded to you by the ' Medical Insti- 
tute' of Paris, evinces the high estimation entertained in that centre of 
medical science and intelligence, of the services you have rendered to 

"It is earnestly hoped that our Government, with a similar apprecia- 
tion of this great acquisition to medical science, will stamp their sense 
of its importance, by a substantial acknowledgment which, while it en- 
courages the philanthropist in his eflbrts to meliorate the condition of 
his fellow men, will remunerate you in some measure for the toil and 
vexation attendant on your struggle for success. 

" Respectfully your obedient servant, 

" Chief of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, 
Mr. Wm. T. G. Morton, M. D., Washington. 

"Navy Department, Bureau of Medicine and Suegerv, 

"March 1 1, 1852. 


"I would state, however, that in the single capital operation in which 
the etherial inhalation was employed by me, it was attended* with the 
happiest results, and impressed me vidth such a forcible conviction of 
its importance, that I deem it indispensable, as a general rule, in all 
serious surgical cases requiring the use of the knife. 

"Its application in general practice is becoming daily and more en- 
larged, as its peculiar influence over the nervous system and 'percep- 
tive' powers is developed ; and the physician or surgeon who banishes 
it from his pharraacopasia, is neglecting one of the most potent weapons 
presented for his use, since the great discovery of JenncM'. 

"Upon the whole I have no hesitation in expressing the opinion that 
this discover}', when divested of the prejudices attending in some minds 
the introduction of all novelties, and when the accidents inseparable 
from its abuse or ignorant application, are ascribed to their proper 


causes, will take its rank as among the most valuable acquisitions 
which have ever been made to medical science. 

" With great respect, your obedient servant, 

" Passed Assistant Surgeon U. S, Navy. 
"W. T. G. Morton, M. D., Washirigton City. 

Inquiries were also instituted into its effect upon mortality, and espe- 
pecially of surgical operations. To be fully satisfactory, inquiries of 
this character should extend through a long series of years, and embrace 
very many cases, the results of which have been carefully observed. 
The discovery being of recent origin, no opportunity for inquiries and 
observations to such extent has been afforded. The answers to such in- 
quiries, where received in specific form, have embraced one class only 
of operations, viz : amputations of thigh, leg, and fore arm. The sta- 
tistics thus acquired, the committee believe to be reliable, as they are 
derived from the surgeons of the army and navy, from a few hospitals, 
and from eminent surgeons in civil practice. The result is appended in 
the following table, accompanying which will be found Prof. Simpson's 
European tables : 

Amputations of the thigh, leg, arm, and fore arm, communicated to 
the committee, with their results. The greater number of those in 
which the patients were not etherized, were performed before the disco- 
very of the anaesthetic properties of ether and chloroform. 

-Not etherized. 

Of whom died. 


Of whom died. 





No. vni. — Table of the Mortality of Amputation of the Thigh, Leg, and 



No. of cases. 

No. of deaths. 

Percent, of deaths. 

Parisian Hospitals — Malgaigne - 



57 in 100 

Glasgow Hospital— Lawrie - - 



40 in 100 

General Collection — Phillips • - 



35 in 100 

British Hospitals— Simpson - - 



29 in 100 

Upon patients in an etherized state 



23 in 100 

Six hundred and sixtj'-nine cases of anaesthesia in obsterical practice are 
likewise reported in Professor Simpson's work — "Anesthesia in Surgery 
and Midwifery" — and a tabular statement of five hundred and sixteen 
cases in Dr. Channing's work — " Etherization in Childbirth" — the re- 
sult being highly satisfactory. 


Great Britain, France, and all other enlightened nations, have, from 
time immemorial, rewarded munificently such services to humanity. 
The British Parliament, by two successive statutes, bestowed upon Jen- 
ner the sums of ten thousand and twenty thousand pounds for the dis- 
covery of vaccination. The world has as yet produced but one great 
improvement in the healing art deserving to be ranked with that of 
Jenner.* America, by annihilating pain, has done as much for the bene- 

[ • Extracts from the British and Foreign Medico- Chirugical Review, for April, 1852.] 

' Applications of Anceesthesia to Surgery, Midwifery, and Dentistry. — Of the desira- 
bleness of the subjugation or annihilation of pain in surgical operations, considered in itself, we 
cannot, on the whole, for a moment doubt; to disarm the operating table of a great portion of its 
terrors, is indeed a triumph of which our age may be justly proud. Not only is the actual paia 
of an operation thus removed, but also, in great part, that indescribable horror which often torments 
the patient for some time previously. Men of the greatest courage in other respects, and who 
•have faced danger and death in many forms, have yet shrunk from the prospect of the slow and 
cold blooded torture they had before them from the knife of the surgeon. Indeed, however man 
may summon his fortitude to meet physical pain, or any other dire misfortune, we must all bow 
to the laws of humanity, and/eeZ the severity of fate, in spite of the efforts of our moral nature 
to rise above it. But when we find that this great relief which ansBsthetic agents afford, is to be 
obtained almost without risk, and on the whole with very beneficial results otherwise, we should 
receive this great discovery with gratitude and exultation. So complete is the general use of 
antEsthetic agents, that the element of pain as an obstacle or source of danger or of terror in 
surgery, is for ever almost destroyed. Manual and instrumental therapeutics, as a branch of ma- 
teria medica, now proceeds, says M. Bouisson, "in the silence, as it were, of vegetative life, and 
its salutary mutilations are only made know by changes of form without any painful sensation 
having been experienced by the organism." True it is, as has been already shown, there are ex- 
ceptions to the general jule; but they are so rare as not to militate practically against it. 

Besides the applications of antesthesia to operations, it may be employed in surgery most use- 
fully to favor the diagnosis of some cases. Professor Miller recommends its use in the examina- 
tion of some female diseases, to save the delicacy and modesty of the patients. There are some 
diseases which cannot otherwise be diagnosed without pain. For instance, in some diseases of 
the eye there is such intense photophobia, with spasmodic contraction of the eyelids on the en- 
trance of light into the eye, that it is very difficult to open the eyelide, so as to make a proper 
examination of the organ itself. In such cases, a moderate degree of anaesthesia will often over- 
come the resistance of the orbicularis, and destroy for a time the sensibility of the retina, so as to 
allow of the examination being made. In many accidents the pain renders it difficult to allow of 
the garments of the patient being removed, and the parts injured being properly examined. In 
bums it is often difficult to remove the scorched clothes, burned as it were into the skin. In 
many painful affections of the vagina, accompanied by constriction, it is often hardly possible to 
use the speculum. Cases of painful catheterism may also be adduced, and necessary exploration 
^ of the urinary canal and bladder. In such cases, and in others which can easily -be imagined, as 
in affections of children, when the struggles of the patient afford an obstacle, and in many in- 
stances of feigned disease, as we shall'see under our fourth head, the services which anmsthesia, 
may render to diagnosis are considerable. * » » ^ 

By overcoming pain, it has caused many operations which used to be as rarely performed as 
possible, to come more in the way of the surgeon: the removal of nails, and the operation of the 
actual cautery, need no longer inspire horror to the operator or to the patient. With the view of 
removing muscular resistance, its use has become general in the reduction of dislocations and the 
operation of the taxis. » . » » 

The diminution of the shock to the nervous system seems to favor the healing of wounds, and 
altogether increases the chances of recovery. The shivering and re- active fever which often fol- 
low operations are greatly diminished by etherization; there is generally more sleep, and more 
complete feeling of comfort. • » » 

It is not necessary to point out the occasional benefit which may be derived from the use of 
anaesthesia iri the taxis, in the reduction of dislocations, and setting of fractures. In all this 
class of surgical operations, cases must be continually occurring, proving to the surgeon the 
immense results which he may reap from the new discovery. • • ♦ 

Anaesthesia is now used in private and in public practice, as regularly ia lithotomy as in otbor 
operations. • • * 

Henceforth, even the cock-pit of a man-of-war, and the hospital after a field of battle, will 
be disarmed of half their terrors. • • • 



fit of the 'race, as England did when she furnished the instrument by 
•which the small pox may be finally exterminated. It would be unwor- 
thy our greatness, and our destiny, as the nation soon to be the most 
powerful on the globe, to undervalue a benefaction to nriankind, which 
is the peculiar glory of science, of our age, and of our country. 

Your Committee therefore recommend, that an appropriation be made 
for the benefit of Dr. W. T. G. Morton, to be paid to him in considera- 
tion of his discovery of the anajsthetic properties of the vapor of sul- 
phuric ether, and of his public and successful application of the said pain- 
destroying agent in surgical operations, and of its use in the army and 
navy of the United States, and conditioned that he surrender to the 
United States his patent for the discovery. The majoi'ity of the Com- 
mittee, in view of its use as above mentioned, and of the incalculable 
value of the discovery to the whole world, are of the opinion that 
one hundred thousand dollars would not be an unreasonable appropria- 
tion for that purpose. They herewith report a bill. [The Committee 
on Naval Affairs, House of Representatives, and the Military and Naval 
Committees of the Senate, fully concur in the recommendation. — See 
pp. 92, 100.] 

W. H. BISSELL, M. D. of Illinois, 
JOS. SUTHERLAND, of New York, 
ROBERT RANTOUL, jr. of Massachusetts. 
GRAHAM N. ^H, M. D., one of the 
Regents of the Smithsonian Institut( Professor Jnstituts and 
Practice of Medici) sh Medical College. 

Office, House of Representatives, U. S., 

City of Washington, June 28, 1852. 

I, John W. Forney, Clerk of the House of Representatives of the 
United States of America, do hereby certify, that the accompanying 
printed document is a true copy of the report agreed upon by the Select 
Committee of the House of Representatives on the memorial of Doctor 
William T. G. Morton, for the discovery of etherization, and will be pre- 
sented to the House of Representatives when the said Select Committee 
shall be called upon to report in the regular order of the business of the 
said House. 

#***#*»* 1^1 testimony whereof, I have hereunto affixed my signa- 
* I ture and the seal of the House of Representatives of 

* * * the United States, this twenty-eighth day of June, in 

******** the year one thousand eight hundred and fifty-two. 

' Attest: JOHN W. FORNEY, 

Clerk of the House of Representatives, U. S. 

The argument in favor of the employment of ancesthesia [in midwifery] may be summoned 
up as follows: 

1st. The removal of the pain is beneficial to the mother by preventing the nervous excitement 
and shock which physical pain is apt to excite, and the nervous and inflammatory reaction which, 
in some constructions, is apt to result. 

2nd. It renders many operations, requisite in complicated labors, easier of performance, and 
more beneficial to the patient. 

3rd. .statistics prove the practice of anaesthesia to be beneficial to the mothers, and nowise dan- 
gerous to the children. • • • 



Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Unite I 
States of America in Congress assembled, That the Secretary of War and 
the Secretary of the Navy be, and they are hereby authorized and in- 
structed to receive from Wm. T. G. Morton his patent right for the use 
of sulphuric ether in producing insensibility to pain during surgical 
and other operations, which is at present in use or may hereafter at any 
time be introduced into the hospitals of the army and navy, the peniten- 
tiary of the United States, and board of the national shipping; and 
there shall be paid to the said Wm. T. G. Morton, the sum of one hun- 
ired tliousand dollars out of any money in the treasury not otherwise 
Appropriated, in full compensation for the surrender of all his rights un- 
der the said patent : Provided, however. That the said Wm. T. G. Morton 
shall surrender all right, interest, and benefit from the above letters 
patent to the Commissioner of Patents 

Dr. Simpson, in 1848, communicated the results obtained in 1519 cases, and in our opinioa 
established the utility of anaesthesia [in midwifery] upon incontestable grounds. » • • 

Therapeutical Applications of Anasthesia. — It is now evident that the use of anaesthetic 
agents is capable of an extension beyond the bounds of merely operative medicine. It has been 
transported into medicine itself ; and perhaps this circumstance may attract the attention of the 
profession to the advantages which may accrue from the use of other remedies in the form of in- 
halations. When we consider the great extent of the. pulmonary mucous membrane, and the 
facility with which vapors may be introduced through the respiration into the blood, it seems ex- 
traordinary that this mode of administering medicines has not been more exactly studied. * • • 

Pain exists in a vast number of diseases, where even opium is insufficient to afford relief ; in 
such cases a field is opened to the use of anaesthetic agents. * * * 

In several cases of intense facial neuralgia, benefit has been obtained from the inhalation of 
ehloroform, when all other remedies have failed. In pains of the bowels, gastralgia, and in nerT- 
ous colics, similar results have followed. Many observers have pointed out the benefit de- 
rived from doses of chloroform in the liquid form, in relieving the pain at the early stages of 
•holera. * • * 

In tetanus many favorable cases have been reported. * » » 

In mental aliepation anaesthesia has been a good deal used. • • • 

AnJEsthetic agents have been appliecl locally in the way of friotions, in nervous and rheumatic 
pains, in painful ophthalmia, and in orchitis. Under the hands of some it has been found ex- 
ceedingly successful in relieving pain, and subduing inflammation, and in the dressing of ulcers. 

It is very plain to us that we are only at the beginning of the medicinal use of these agents. 

Applications to Legal Medicine. Simulated dumbness, deafness, and slammering, can be 

See page 86 of this report, 


Itesolutiqn from tlie Committee on Naval Affairs of the House 

of Representatvvea. 


Resolved, That the Committee on Naval Affairs of the House of Re- 
presentatives agree in the propriety of the appropriation for Dr. W. T. 
G. Morton, for the discovery of etherization, recommended by the Select 
.Committee of the House of Representatives on that subject, and adopt 
the suggestions ol the Chairman of the said Select Committee, [hereto 
annexed,] to offer the same as an amendment to the bill making appro- 
priations for the naval service, in conformity with the views of the Se- 
cretaries of War, Navy, and Treasury Departments, as expressed in 
their correspondence with this committee, [see correspondence annexed.] 

FREDERICK P. STANTON, of Tennessee, 

THOS. B. FLORENCE, of Pennsylvania, 

ROBT. GOODENOW, of Maine, 

S. W. HARRIS, of Alabama, 


House of R«presentatives U. S., May 31, 1852. 

Sir : I have the honor to inform you that the Select Committee of the 
House of Representatives, to w^hom was referred the memorial of I)r, 
"William T. G. Morton, asking remuneration from Congress for the dis- 
covery of the anaesthetic properties of sulphuric ether, have agreed upon 
a report, (a copy of which is enclosed,) which they are awaiting an op- 
portunity to present to the House. You will observe that in this report 
the committee fully recognise the inestimable benefits conferred upon 
' the human race by this discovery, and believing that the example of the 
enlightened nations of the old world, in awarding munificently those 
who have rendered important services to humanity, is (particularly 

forthy of imitation in the present instance, have determined to report 
l,bill appropriating the sum of one hundred thousand dollars to Dr. 
Morton as a compensation for his discover}^, and in consideration of the 
surrender to the United States of all right and interest which he now 
holds in that discovery, in virtue of letters patent granted to him by 
this Government.* ' 

• Washington, January 5, 1847. 

Db. W. T. G. Morton, Boston, Mass. 

Deah Sin: Yours of the 26th ult, was receired in due course of mail, and in answer I hare 
to say, that, at the time your application for preventing pain in surgical operations was under con- 
sideration in the Patent Office, Mr. Eddy consulted me on the novelly and patentabilily of your 
discovery. I then examined the subject carefully, and gave it as my decided and candid opinion 
that it was novel, and the legitimate subject of a patent; and this opinion has only been strength- 


The sum abovementioned will, it is believed, not be deemed too large,* 
when we remember the benefits which have been conferred, and when 
we consider the fact that, contrary to that provision in the Constitution 
which declares that " private property shall not be taken for public use 
without just compensation," this nation has been for years, and is now- 
daily availing itself of the advantages to be derived from this new 

ened by further reflection. Under the law, any new and useful art is made the subject of a patent. 
This covers any discovery in modes of procedure having a useful object in yiew, and susceptible 
of being so defined as to instruct others to apply or make use of the mode of procedure. There 
can be no question that your discovery comes under this provision of law. It is a new mode of 
procedure, definite in its character, and which may be taught to others, and which, therefore, 
comes under the denommation of an art, as defined by the ablest judges in Europe and in this 

Before your discovery, many attempts had been made to render persons insensible to pain, pre- 
paratory to surgical operations, by introducing into the stomach intoxicating substances; but this 
mode of procedure was unsuccessful. You then discovered that, by introducing into the lungs 
the vapor of certain substances, a different effect was produced from that of intoxication produced 
by the introduction of substances into the stomach, and that this effect was such as to render the 
patient insensible to pain : hence the use of this discovery, in connection with surgical operations, 
is an improvement in the art of surgery. A discovery in the abstract is not the subject of letters 
patent? as the discovery of the elastic force of steam; of the pressure of the atmosphere; of the 
expansion of metals under the influence of caloric, &c. ; for this is the mere finding out of some- 
thing existing before. 

The mere discovery in these cases had no direct useful application in the arts or affairs of life, 
and could not be appropriated to the sole use of the discoverers; but the moment any one of them 
could be applied to a useful practical purpose, then the party so applying it produces a useful re- 
sult; and such application, originating in the mind of the discoverer^or inventor, is no longer a 
discovery, in the abstract, of something before existing, but a new creation, which, having its 
origin in the mind of the discoverer, and not existing before, (for it is an artificial condition,) is, 
in view of the law, the property of the one who conceived it. There can be no question that 
the one who first conceived the idea of intoxicating a patient, preparatory to a surgical operation, 
would have been entitled to a patent for his new mode of proceedure ; how, then, does your plan 
differ from his ? You conceived the idea^that, by introducing the vapor of certain substances 
into the lungs, a different condition of the nervous system was produced, viz; A state of in- 
sensibility to pain ; and, by connecting this mode of producing this state of insensibility to pain 
with surgical operations, you have produced a new and useful result, highly important in the art 
of surgery; the result of a new conception, originating in your mind, and legitimately the subject 
of letters patent. Your invention is the connexion of the two processes or modes of operation. 

Before the date of Watt's invention of the steam-engine, the expansive force of steam had 
been applied to a piston in a cylinder, and it was well known that, by the application of cold 
water, steam could be condensed in a vessel to etiect a vacuum; and all that immortalized that 
great man was the union of these two ideas, or modes of proceedure: applying the force of 
steam in one vessel, and condensing it in another. In a legal point of view, your invention does 
not differ from this, which has been admitted to be patentable by all the legal knowledge of the 
world, and the universal consent of civilized man. 
I am, sir, yours, very respectfully, 

CHARLES M. KELLER, /(w Keller 4- Greenough. 

Februaiit 19, 1847. 

I concur in the foregoing opinion entirely; entertaining no doubt that Dr. Morton's discovery- 
is a new and useful art, and, as such, the proper subject of a patent. 


I have e:^jimined the question of the patentability of Dr. Morton's discovery of the anesthetic 
property of ether, and its applicability to surgical operations, and entertain no doubt as to the va- 
lidity of the patent, or of his exclusive title thereto. 

J. M. CARLISLE, Washmgion. 
* Extract of a letter dated Patent Office, Washington, November 16, 1846. 

It will of course be a source of great pecaniary profit. It must of course, come into general 
Hfle, and licenses at moderate rates will produce a lajge revenue. EDMUND BURKE, 

Commissioner 0/ Fatenta, 


agent, by employing it in her navy and army, and in other public insti- 
tutions, without compensating the discoverer, and that too, after having 
issued a patent guaranteeing to him the full and exclusive privileges and 
rights accruing from his discovery. In view of these considerations, and 
of the fact that although nearly six years have elapsed since this dis- 
covery, no pecuniary benefits have been derived therefrom by the dis- 
coverer, and looking, also, to what is just and right from a great govern- 
ment to the greatest benefactor of the human race of the present age, it 
is very desirable that his award should be no longer delayed. 

The object of this communicatit)n, therefore, is to urge upon your con- 
sideration the practicability and propriety of attaching the bill above 
referred to, to the " Naval Appropriation Bill" for the ensuing fiscal year. 

For your further information in regard to the use of this agent in the 
army and navy, I enclose copies of letters'from the Surgeon General of 
the Army, and from the Chief of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery 
o^the Navy, (see pages 82 and 86,) which may be useful to you, in case 
you deem it proper or necessary to communicate on this subject with 
either the Secretary of War or of the Navy. 

Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 


Hon. Feed. P. Stanton, Chairman Committee on Naval Affairs, House 
of Representatives. 

•Upon the receipt of the letter from the Chairman of the Select Com- 
mittee upon the Memorial of Dr. Morton, Mr. Stanton addressed the 
following letter respectively to the Secretaries of War, Navy, and Trea- 
sury : 

Washington, June 7, 1852. 
Sir : I'hatye the honor to transmit to you the enclosed communication 
from the Hon. W. H. Bissell, with the copies of letters from the Chief of 
the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery of the Navy, and the Surgeon Gen- 
eral of the Army, and other documents therein referred to, all of which 
relate to the memorial of Dr. William T. G. Morton, asking remunera- 
tion from Congress for the discovery of the aucBSthetic properties of sul- 
phuric ether. 

I concur in most of the views and opinions expressed by Col. Bissell 
as to the propriety and justice of compensating one who is so eminently- 
entitled to the gratitude not only of his countrymen, but of the world at 
4arge, especially when Dr. Morton presents himself as the sole patentee 
of the discovery, and seeks, on condition of the surrender of his patent, 
remuneration for the benefits which are alleged to have been received 
therefrom by the Government, through its constant use in the army and 
navy during the war with Mexico,* and up to the present time.. But in 

* It is impossible not to perceive that the fact of the Government having disregarded Dr. Mor- 
ton's patent, and appropriated his discovery to the public service without compensation, was at- 
tended with consequences far more injurious to his rights than the mere neglect or refusal to 
compensate him for the use of his property. Nothing could have struck more fatally at the va- 
lidity of his patent, in public opinion, than the' open infraction of it by the very Government 
from whom it had been purchased. Its direct tendency and practical cflect, were to proclaim to 
the public that the patent was no obstacle in the way of the use of the discovery, without the li- 
cense of the patentee. Accordingly it is a fact which has been made evident to the committee by 
a comparison of facts and other evidence, tliat although numerous sales were made by Dr. Mor- 
ton prior to the public announcement that th^ use of ether had been adopted in the public service, 
(New York Herald and other papers,) not a^single application was made to him after that fact 
became generally known. 


order to comply with Col. Bissell's suggestion, by submitting the matter 
to the Committee on Naval Ali'airs of the House of Representatives, I 
deem it appropriate and necessary to procure the wiews of the Depart- 
ment in an official form. 

Supposing that you will concur in the views expressed by the Chiefs 
of the Medical Corps of the Army and Navy, in the concluding para- 
graphs of their communications on the subject, I do not doubt that you 
will give the proposition of the Hon. Mr. Bissell, a fair and liberal con- 
sideration. I am, very respectfully, your ob't servant, 


The following replies have been received : 

Treasury Department, June 25, 1852. 

Sir : I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of 
the 17th instant, covering copies of a communication from the Hon. W. 
H. Bissell, of a letter from the Chief of the Bureau of Medicine and 
Surgery of the Navy, and of a letter from the Surgeon General of tKe 
Army, with certain printed matter, all relating to the memorial of Dr. 
Wm. T. G. Morton, asking remuneration from Congress for the discov- 
ery of the anaesthetic properties of sulphuric ether. 

An attentive examination of these several documents has satisfied me 
that sulphuric ether and tincture of chloroform are very generally used 
in the army and navy of the United States,* as ana;sthetic agents; and 
the decided testimony borne to the merits of these etherial preparations 
by the Chief of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery of the Navy, and the 
Surgeon General of the Army, leaves no doubt upon my mind as to their 
great value in medical and surgical practice. In addition to the evidence 
thus afforded in their favor, I may mention the fact that these agents now 
form a part of the regular medical supply to the marine hospitals of the 
United States, and that they are employed therein with very general 

Regarding the discovery of the anaesthetic properties of sulphuric 
ether, as, in the language of Surgeon General Lawson, "one of the most 
important and valuable contributions to medical science, and to the re- 
lief of suffering humanity, ever made," I concur entirely with Col. Bis- 

* Extract from a report of the Surgeon General to the Secretary of War. 

•• During ihe three years immediately preceding, and the three years of peace subsequent to the 
Mexican war, ihe average annual number of wounds and injuries treated in the army has beea 
2,592." » * » « These agents (ether and chloroform) may be useful in all the amputations, 
m many of the fractures not requiring amputation, in a number of luxations, gunshot wounds, and 
other injuries requiring an operation; also in a number of diseases, such as strangulated hernia, 
calculus, heemorrhoids, fistulas, tumors, &c., requiring the knife, including cases of delirium 
tremens, and occasionally a case of parturition." 

Dr. Richard H. Coolidge, of the Surgeon General's Office, says : "I have examined the 
reports of sick and wounded from the army during the recent war with Mexico. I find that the 
number of gun-shot wounds reported, amounts to 3,949, and that of all other wounds and inju- 
Srred * °^ ^'^^'^^ niimher probably falls far short of what actually 

Extract of report of Bureau of Medicine and Surgery to the Secretary of War. 

" The number of wounds and injuries of all kinds requiring medical treatment in the naval 
service during the year 1850 was 1,379." .v 

_ Neither of the above reports includes wounds and injuries treated in the fifleen U. S. Marino 


sell and yourself, as to the propriety and justice of liberally compensat- 
ing the patentee, who has not at any lime received pecuniary advan- 
tage* from his discovery, and who now appeals to the Legislature of his 
country, on condition of the surrender of his patent for' the benefit of 
mankind, for proper remuneration in lieu of the gains that he" would have 
derived had he been protected in iHe use of the rights conferred upon him 
'^y letters patent of the Government. I therefore recommend that such 
reasonable and liberal sum, as the committee of which you are chairman 
may in their discretion determine upon, be reported as a national com- 
pensation to Dr. Morton, and that the same be attached, as proposed by 
Col. Bissell, to the "naval appropriation bill" for the ensuing fiscal 3rear. 
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant, 


Hon. Frederick P. Stanton, Secretary of the Treasury. 

Chairman Naval Committee House of Reps. 

■ • 

' War Department, 

Washington, June 21, 1852. 

Sir: I have received your letter of the 7th instant, enclosing sundry 
documents relating to the memorial of Dr. William T. G. Morton, who 
seeks remuneration from the Government for the discovery of the anaes- 
thetic properties of sulphuric ether. 

In reply I beg leave to state that I have no information on the subject . 
of this discovery other than that which I have derived from public rumor 
and from the documents you enclose, it being exclusively a professional 
question. All the information which this department could furnish the 
committee is contained in the letter from the Surgeon General^ M'hich is 
among the papers you enclose. 

Judging from this information, there can be but little doubt that this 
discovery is one of the most valuable contributions that science has ever 
made to the cause of humanity. 

* BosTOTT, April 20, 1852. 
Dr. W. T. G. MoBTOsr — Dear Sir : As by the terms of the agreement made between yourself 
and me on the 30th day of October, 1846, I am required as often as once in six months to ren- 
der you an account of the net profits resulting from sales of certain patents, etc., as will appear 
by reference to said agreement. I have now to inform you, and do inform you, that up to this 
date, April 2d, 1847, I have received no net profits on account of any, and therefore can render 
you no further account than this, or pay to you any moneys resulting from any net profits re- 
ceived. Yours, respectfully, 

R. H. EDDY. 

[Extract from a letter written hy Caleb Eddy, Esq., of Boston, to Hon. Robert C. Win- 
throjj. Speaker of the House of Representatives 30th Congress.] 

"To my knowledge he has spent large sums of money, and I think deserves some considera- 
tion in return." 

[Extracts from letters written in 1848, to the Trustees of the Massachusetts General Hos- 
pital, by B. F. Brooks, an eminent lawyer, and Mr. Joseph Burnett, merchant, both of 

"I have gone somewhat into detail, that you may see the nature of Dr. Morton's embarrass- 
ments. They have grown out of his cffurts in a cause which has resuUed in a great public 
good, and he deserves a better fate than to' be left to sink under them. 

" Yours truly, 


"And am satisfied that he has been a loser of several thousand dollars, directly or indirectly, 

.in consequence of his labors devoted to this object. ,. 


I do not know what the practice of the Government has been in re- 
gard to rewarding individuals for inventions or discoveries made by 
rhem,* or, at least, compens^iting them for the use of them in the public 
service, [see page 81 and 89,] but I do not hesitate to say that if it has 
been the practice of Congress to grant such rewards or compensation, 
Dr. Morton's claim is fairly entitled to the most liberal consideration. 
Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

^ ^ CM. CONRAD, 

Secretary of War. ' 

Hon. Frederick P. Stanton, 

Chairman Committee on Naval Affairs, House of Reps. 

* List of Patents purchased and used in the Army of the United States. 

Thomas Blanchard. — For the use of several machines for turning or cutting irregular forms, 
constituting in the whole what is generally known as the Gun-stock turning Machine, with the 
■everal improvements for the use of, and in connection with this invention, there has been paid to 
Mr. Blanchard by this Department, for the privilege of using the same, 8,921 50. 

/. H. Hall. — For the right to make and use patent breech loading rifle and carbine, and all the 
machinery for making the same, there has been paid to Mr. Hall and his heirs, the sum ot 
037,553 32. 

Dr. E. Maynard, March 20, 1845. — For the right to make and use his improved lock and 
percussion priming for small arms, and to apply the same to 4,000 muskets, there has been paid 
to Dr. Maynard, ^4,000. 

The right to use the invention and apply the same to a greater number of arms at a reduced scale 
of prices has been secured, and may be used if desirable, as follows, viz: For 10,000 muskets, 
$7,500 ; for 20,000 muskets, $10,000; for 100,000 muskets, $25,000 ; any greater nuinber at a 
price to be agreed upon, not exceeding 25 cents for each musket. 

J. B. Hyde, Dec. 1846. — For the right to make and use Hales's patented war rocket to an un- 
limited extent for the military service, $10,000. 

S. Mower and W. H. Scomlle, attorneys of P. W. Gates, Sept. 5, 1848. — For the right to 
make and use m all establishments of the Ordnance Department Gates' patent dies for cutting 
screws, $750. ' 

Loughs Bridge Patent. — For the Bridge Patent privilege there has been paid $850 00. 

Mitchell's Screw Pile— For Sand Key Lighthouse, §1,700 00. 

Mitchell's Screw Pile — For Brandy wine Lighthouse and Ice-breaker, $2,400 00. 

Boettcher's Fuze. 

Stevens's Shell. 

List of Patents purchased and used in the Navy of the United States. 

Stevens' " Cut-off." — For right to use two on Mississippi or other steamer during continuance 
of patent, $2,500 ; for right to use on Saranac, $2,700.— Total, $5,200. 

Sickell and Cook's "Cut-off."— For right to use on Michigan, $3,000 ; on Water Witch, $750 ; 
on Gen. Taylor, $500 ; on Powhatan, $6,681 25 ; on San Jacinto, $4,418 ; on Fulton, $1,780 98; 
on Princeton, $2,700 ; on Alleghany, $3,927.— Total, $23,757 23. 

George W. Taylor's " Marine Camels." — For one set for first class sloop-of-war, with right lo 
use said camels during continuance of patent, $27,500.— Total, $27,500 

West and Thompson's " Clasp Coupling."— For right to use on Susquehanna, Saranac, San 
Jocinto, and Powhatan, $1 20 per inch diameter of attached vessel. 

Worthington and Baker's "Steam Pump."— For one for San Jacinto, $500 ; two for Powha- 
tan at $500, $1,000 ; two for Princeton at $600, $1,200 ; two for Alleghany at $600, $1,200 : 
one for Water Witch, $400 ; one for Vixen, $400 ; one for Fulton, $500 ; two for Mississippi, 
$1,100; two for Saranac, $1,000 ; two for Susquehanna, $1,000; article manufactured and 
patent included in each case.— Total, $8,300. 

Worthington and Baker's " Percussion Water Guage."— For three for Princeton at $80 

$240 ; three for Alleghany at $80, $240 ; four for Powhatan at $60, $240 ; four for Mississippi 

at $60, $240 ; one for Water Witch, $60 ; one for Vi.xen, $60 ; two for Fulton at $60, $120 • 

Sl^^oon $180 ; article manufactured and patent included in each case.— Total, 


Copland's " Self Acting Blow."— For right to use and make for Tullon, San Jacinto, and 
Powhatan, $1,270 ; for Vixen, $144 ; for Saranac, $480.— Total", $1,894. 

'\^''^i'}°"'elers"—For seven for Alleghany at $75, $525 ; seven for Princeton at 
$75, $525 ; four for Susquehanna at $75, $300 ; four for Powhatan at $75, $300 ; three for 
Saranac at $75, $225; four for Fulton at $75, $300 ; one for Water Witch, $75 ; one for Vixen, 


Navy Department, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, 

June 29, 1852. 

biR: 1 havie had the honor to receive your letter of yesterday's date, 
in relation to the memorial of Dr. W. T. G. Morton, asking of Congress 
remuneration for the discovery of the anaesthetic properties of sulphurie 
ether, and calling upon me for a statement as to the basis on which the 
claim is founded, with an estimate of the amount to which, in my opin- 
ion, lie is entitled, on the score of the benefits and advantages resulting 
from its use in the naval service. 

As the views of the Bureau in regard to the importance of this dis- 
covery have been ah-eady expressed in a communication to Dr. Morton, 
I beg leave to extract so much of it as relates to this branch of the 

" In reply to your inquiry as to the importance attached to the late 
discovery of etherization, by the Medical Corps of the Navy, it gives me 
pleasure to express the high sense they entertain of its utility, not only 
in surgical practice, but as a powerful agent in many painful affections 
which have resisted the ordinary remedies. This opinion is strengthened 
by the concurrent testimony of the ablest civil practitioners of our own 
country, with the emphatic endorsement of its value by the best British 
and continental surgeons. 

" The gist of this discovery consists in finding that nervous perception 
is suspended under the influence of the etherial inhalation ; and while 
suspended, that the patient is unconscious of pain under the operation 
of the knife. In addition to the great benefit derived from its use, in al- 
leviating pain, it has a decided effect in diminishing mortality. Its ad- 
vantage in this respect appears to be in saving the system from the 
severe shock and nervous exhaustion which attend most of "the graver 
surgical operations, and which of themselves often prove fatal. 

" It dispels the fear of pain which formerly prevented many from sub- 
mitting to an operation, or induced them to defer it until too late. 

"It enables the surgeon, also, to operate coolly, and effectually, undis- 
turbed by the cries and struggles of the patient, which sometimes un- 
nerves the steadiest hand, and render abortive the best directed efforts." 

In regard to the grounds on which Dr. Morton basis his claim to pe- 
cuniary remuneration from the Government, I would state, that from 
the peculiar nature of the discovery, it is impossible to protect the in- 
ventor in the exclusive advantage of it by letters patent. The novelty 

$75 ; four for Mississippi at $75, $300 ; three for San Jacinto at $75, $225 ; article manufe*- 
tiired and patent included in each' case. — Total, $2,850. 

Allen and Noyes^ " Metallic Packing." — For right to use on Powhatan, Mississippi, and 
Michigan, $3,400 ; on Saranac, $1,250 ; on Princeton, $900; on Alleghany, $900 ; on Water 
Witch, $700 ; on Vixen, $700.— Total, $7,850. 

Pirsson's "Condenser."— For right to use on Alleghany, inclusive of his personal attendance 
while manufacturing, $1,000.— Total, $1,000. 

La7nb and Summci-'s " Sheet-flue Boiler." — For right to make and use on Princeton and Al- 
leghany, $5,085; on Water Witch and Vixen, $1,800.— Total, $6,885. 

B. Crawford's "Steam Thermometer." — For one to be used at the Foundry Washington Navy 
Yard, inclusive of patent, $100.— Total, $100. 

Lt. Hunter's "Submerged Wheel." — For right to use on Alleghany, (not now used,) $10,330. 
Total, $10,320. 

Francis "Life Boat."— For cne for Mississippi, $520 ; one for Vandalia, $520 ; one for Vm- 
cennea, $520 ; one for Saranac, $540 ; one for Alleghany, $540 ; one for Copper Cutter, $540 ; 
one Dingy for Washington Yard, $50 ; one Dingy, $126 ; one Dingy for Alleghany, $126 ; one 
Copper Cutter, $540 ; manufactured article and patent included in each case. — Total, $4,022. 



of the discovery consists in the new application of an old remedial agent, 
and the privilege of using it, on the part of the profession at large, can- 
not be practically curtailed by statutory enactment. The inventor is 
thus deprived of the pecuniary advantages of his discovery, and is justi- 
fied in appealing to the Government, which also largely avails itself of 
the benefits derived from it, for relief. 

It will be difficult to estimate the amount which the inventor may 
reasonably ask of the Government in consideration of the advantages 
attending its use in the two services. For the reasons above mentioned, 
the cost of the ether itself cannot enter as an element into the calcula- 
tion, and the fairest estimate, I conceive, might be more nearly approxi- 
mated by the amount one would be willing to give to be rescued from 
impending death, or to be relieved from, urgent and intolerable pain. 

I would express the opinion, however, that the sum of one hundred 
thousand dollars proposed by the Select Committee of the House of Re- 
presentatives as a compensation to the inventor, is nothing more than 
a fair equivalent for the immense advantage resulting to the Govern- 
ment and country from this important discovery. 

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

Chief Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. 

Hon. Wm. a. Graham, Secretary of the Navy. 

House op Representatives, August 9, 1852. 

Sir : I have the honor to transmit, for your perusal, a printed copy of 
a Report agreed upon by the S^ect Committee of the House of Repre- 
sentatives, to whom was referred the memorial of Doctor Wm. T. G. 
Morton, asking remuneration from Congress for the discovery of the 
anassthetic properties of sulphuric ether, from which you will perceive 
that the Committee have determined to report a bill appropriating the 
Hum of $100,000 to Doctor Morton, as a compensation for his discovery, 
and in consideration of the surrender to the United States of all right 
and interest which he now holds in that discovery in virtue of letters 
patent granted to him by this government. 

There is every disposition on the part of the House to favor this bill, 
and its many friends are sanguine of its passing by a large vote if it can 
be reached. It is feared, however, from the recent ruling of the House, 
which makes it out of order to append amendments to the regular ap- 
propriation bills, which are not made to carry out previously existing 
laws, will present an effectual barrier to its being brought up in that 
manner, and the late period of the session precludes the hope that it can 
be reached in the ordinary course of business. 

The object of this communication, therefore, is, to urge upon your 
consideration, the practicability and propriety of attaching the bill above 
referred to, to the "army appropriation bill" for the present fiscal year, 
when the same shall come under consideration in the Committee on 
Military Affairs of the Senate. 

Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 


Hon. James Shields, Chairman of Committee on Military Affairs, 
United Stales Senate. 


Upon the receipt of the above letter the subject was thoroughly in- 
vestigated by the Military Committee, and they came to the following 
conclusion : 

Resolution of the Military Committee. 

Resolved, That the Committee on. Military Affairs of the Senate re- 
port an amendment to the army appropriation bill for the current year,, 
appropiating the sum of- one hundred thousand dollars to enable the 
President of the United States to procure the surrender of the patent is- 
sued to Dr. William T. G. Morton, for his discovery of the anesthetic 
properties of sulphuric ether. — See the speeches in Appendix of Dr. Bor- 
land and Gen, Shields, members of said Committee. 

The subject being then taken under consideration by the Commitlee 
on Naval Affairs, the following resolution was adopted by that Commit- 
tee : 

Resolution of the Naval Committee. 

■ Resolved by the Senate Committee on Naval Affairs, That the said 
Committee fully concur with the Committee on Military Affairs in re- 
porting an amendment to the army appropriation bill, appropriating 
one hundred thousand dollars to enable the President to procure th« 
surrender of the patent issued to Doctor Wm, T. G. Morton, for his dis- 
covery of the anassthetic properties of sulphuric ether. — See the speeches 
in Appendix of Dr. Gwin, Mr. Badger, and Mr. Mallory, members of 
said Committee. 

In pursuance of the above resolutions, Dr? Borland, a member of the 
Committee on Military Affairs; moved the following amendment to the 
army appropriation bill, to come in after 122d line: 

Amendment to the Army Appropriation Bill. 

To enable the President of the United States to procure the surrender 
of the patent issued to William T. G. Morton on the 1 2th day of No- 
vember, 1846, for his discovery of the anaesthetic properties of sulphuric 
ether, one hundred thousand dollars. 

Yeas— 17. Nays— 26. 


lExtract of a letter from John Watson, M. D.] 

New York Hospital, January 10, 1852. 
The wonderful- action of ether and the other anaesthetics in alleviat- 
ing suffering, and in overcoming spasm and muscular resistance du- 
ring the most protracted, difficult, and delicate surgical membulations, 
is sufficient to place them among the most useful discoveries that ever 
have been effected, and to entitle Mr. Morton, who first demonstrated the 
ancBSthetic properties and use of sulphuric ether, to the gratitude of his 
countrymen, and to give him rank among the h^ef actors of the human 

I remain, with, becoming respect, 
George Newbold, Esq. JNO. WATSON. 

West Point, New York, February. 14, 1852. 

Both ether and chloroform are used as aesthetic agents in the army. 
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

Hon. W. H. BissELL, Chairman, <^c. Surgeon U. S. A, 

St. Louis, Mo., February 12, 1852. 

Ether was first used by the army early in 1847, during the Mexican 
war, more particularly on General Scott's line ; as at that period a 
complicated and fragile inhalator was employed for its use, of the num- 
ber of instruments sent to the army, two, intended for the Rio Grande 
line, were broken in the transportation ; hence the ether was little used 
if at all on that line. The chloroform was early introduced in the army, 
not soon enough to have had expeBi(fence of it or chloric ether during the 
war. It is now one of the principal articles of our medical supplies, and 
is in general use. 

The chloroform is as highly esteemed by the medical officers of the 
army and navy as by the surgeons in general practice ; it is certainly 
an inestimable boon to suffering humanity. To my knowledge no im- 
pprtant surgical operation, including reduction of dislocations, fractures, 
«&c. is performed in the army without its being employed. 

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant, 


Asst. Surgeon, U. S. A. 

Hon. W. H. BiesBLL, Chairman, ^c. 


Fort Adams, R. I., February 10, 1852. 
I have no doubt their effect is greatly to lessen mortality in surgical 

Most respectfully, your obedient servant, 

Hon. W. H. BissELL, Chairman, <^c. Surgeon U. S. A. 

"West Point, N. Y., February 12, 1852." 
Says it was introduced into the Mexican war. "I shall consider it the 
greatest boon of the soldier. 

"Asst. Surg, U. S. Army.'" 

"Athens, Georgia, February 9, 1852. 
"I reply, that in the Navy of the United States, to my knowledge, 
both ether and chloroform are used as anaesthetic agents. 

" That the discovery is of American origin and due to Dr. Morton, 
seems so well established and believed, that it is needless for me to add 
anything on this head. The memory of such a man should be written 
' in cerea perenes ;' and it would reflect honor upon his country to re- 
ward his labors while living. Such a man can proudly exclaim with 
the immortal Tycho Broke, ' I have not lived in vain.' 

''Asst. Surg. U. S. Army. 

"New York, January 3, 1852. 
"I would state that sulphuric ether and tincture of chloroform are 
gunong the medical supplies furnished for the use of the army. 

" T. G. MOWER, 

"Surg.U. S. Army.'" 

"N-EW York, January 31, 1852. 
"Chloroform and sulphuric ether are, I believe, furnished generally to 
the army. * * * The effeet of these agents is wonderful and most 
valuable in lessening pain and suffering. 


"Asst. Surg. U. S. Army'' 

" Philadelphia, /anwary 27, 1852. 
" And so far as my observation extends, (having witnessed a larg« 
number of most painful operations under the influence of ether,) I can 
but consider the discovery of the properties of these agents, as the greatest 
boon that poor suffering humanity has ever received. 


"Surgeon U. S. Armt/.'' 


"Fort Washington, Indiana, Januarij 27, 1852. 
" Medical officers are supplied with Chloroform for the use of the 
armv * * * I have used it myself. 


"Surgeon U. S. Army.^' 

"Germantown, January 26, 1852. 
"Some of these agents are always added to the requisitions of medi- 
eal surgeons. 

0. J. WESTER, 
"Asst. Surgeon U. S. Army." 

"Fort Moultrie, Charleston Harbor, S. C, February 19, 1852. 
"Sulphuric ether was used in the General Hospital at Vera Cruz, 
Mexico, in the summer of 1847, 1 had charge of that hospital. 

" J. B. PORTER, M. D., 

" Surgeon U. S. ^rmy." 

" Plattsburgh Barracks, N. Y. 
" I have used ether, as before stated, for many years. 

" Asst. Surg. U. S. Army:" 

Jefferson Barracks, Mo. 
C. A. Finley, Surgeon U. S. Armj^ uses it and says : " As an alle- 
viator of human suffering, I consider it the most important' discovery 
that has been made since the days of Jenner." 

Fort Meade, Florida. 
Jona. Letturman, assistant surgeon U. S. army, says he uses them in 
" diseases involving the nervous system — in allaying the vomiting of 
an irritable stomach — in cramp colic — and in delirium tremens. Its 
administration in all was followed by complete relief. In a case oT 
delirium tremens, in which all the ordinary remedies were used Vvithout 
effect, I attribute the saving the patient's life to the administration of 

FcjRT ScoTT, Missouri. 
Jos. K. Barnes, assistant surgeon U. S. army, says, " both ether and 
ehloroform have been, and continue to be, used as ansesthetic agents by 
myself and others in army practice. The use of chloroform, under my 
immediate notice, has been confined to its anassthetic effects during 
surgical operations of some magnitude, in which freedom from pain on 
the part of the patient was considered conducive to safety and celerity 
in operating. No medical officer is likely to be without them." 


Fort Dodge, Iowa. 
Charles C. Keeney, assistant surgeon U. S. army, says "ether and 
chloroform are both used as anaesthetic agents in the army. They are 
used to a great extent in neuralgic diseases, and in amputations of the 
extremities, and extirpation of various tumors — all with remarkable 
good effect in annulling sensation and voluntary motion. Where I have 
been stationed they have been used to a great extent." 

Fort Ripley, Minnesota Territory. 

J. Frazier Head, asst. surgeon U. S. army, uses them, and says, " as in 
many important operations in surgery the nervous shock, resulting from 
the pain ejtperienced, is an element of great importance in determining 
the issue of the case, an agent which removes this element with com- 
parative safety, and no bad influence to counterbalance this advantage, 
cannot fail to diminish the mortality attendant upon such operations." 

U. S. Naval Hospital, Portsmouth, Va. 

N. C. Barrabino, surgeon, U. S. navy, says ether and chloroform is 
used both in the army and navy, and is decidedly of the opinion that their 
use lessens mortality. 

Fort McIntosh, Loredo, Texas. 

G. Pierce, assistant surgeon U. S. army, uses them, and says, " I am in- 
clined to form a very high opinion of chloroform as a remedial agent." 

Fort Webster, New Mexico, May 27, 1852. 

Sir : It gives me pleasure, in compliance with your request, to en- 
close to you the accompanying table. My experience in the larger 
amputations is, you will perceive, small, but favorable in the highest de- 
gree to the good effects of etherization. Wishing you success, 
I am, very respectfully, your obedient .servant, 


Asst. Surgeon U. S. A. 

Dr. W. T. G. Morton, Washington, D. C. 

"Fort Duncan, Texas. 

"All my experience regarding anfesthetic agents has been'in parturi- 
tion-, and I can assure you that the effect has always exceeded my most 
. sanguine hopes. "GEO. E. COOPER, 

"Asst. Surgeon U. S, A* 


Baltimore, February 2, 1852. 

That the discovery of an agent which assuages or annihilates the se- 
vere p^in often experienced in diseases, necessarily inflicted to a greater 
or less degree, in operations on the human body, and, generally, incident 
to the condition of the female in the act parturition should, at the very 
first blush, commend itself to the acceptance of all mankind ; and that 
the discoverer of such an agent should be regarded as having conferred 
the highest earthly boon on afflicted humanity ; are propositions too ob- 
vious to need the slightest argument to enforce them. 

Whether ether or chloroform is used in the army for anaesthetic pur- 
poses I have no means of knowing, but it is certainly so used in the 
practice of the Navy. 

I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant, 

J. BEALE, M. D. 

To Hon. W. H. Bissell, Chairman, SfC. Surgeon U. S. N. 

Naval Rendezvous,' New York, February 7, 1852. 
By most of the medical profession these agents are highly appreciated, 
and it is believed that Mr. Morton, who made public his discovery of 
the anaethestic power of ether, is deserving a public reward. 
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

Hon. W. H. Bissell, Chairman, ^c. Surgeon, U. S. N. 

"Erie, Penn., January 30, 1852 
"I should hold myself bound to use sometimes the one, sometimes ths 
other, in various conditions of disease and injury. 


"Surgeon U. S. Navy^ 

"Norfolk, February, 4, 1852. 
"Chloroform or sulphuric ether are used, in the naval service as an 
anaathetic agent. 

" They are principally used, in the naval service, to lessen pain, and 
enable a timid or excitable patient lo undergo an operation. 


"Surgeon U. S. Navy." 

" Philadelpiua. 

"That they are used in the army and navy. I think they diminish 
mortality. "DANIEL EGBERT, 

" Surgeon U. S. Navy." 

" Philadelphia. 

"I have used chloroform as an anajsthetic agent in my practice in the 




" U. S. Snip Pennsylvania, Norfolk, Va. 
D. B. Phillips, Assistant Surgeon U. S. Navy, uses them, and speaks 
of them in the highest terms. 

" Annapolis, Md. 

"My experience has been as yet, limited to some sixteen surgical 
cases. In preventing the sufferings of surgical operations, I consider 
chloric ether entitled to rank as the crowning medical discovery of the 
day. The cases in which I used it, were for the removal of cancerous 
breasts and large tumors, situated in delicate parts. I should strenuosly 
recommend its introduction on board of our vessels of war. 


" Surgeon U. S. Navy.'' 

" U. S. Naval Hospital, Chelsea. 
" They are both used as anaesthetic agent in the navv. 


- " U. S. Navy." 

" U. S. Ship Pennsylvania, Norfolk, Va. 
" Chloroform is used in the navy. Its use has been confined to ampu- 
tations and other painful and protracted surgical operations, and with 
decided benefit. 


" Asst. Surgeon U. S. Navy." 

" Philadelphia. 

" Ether and chloroform are both employed as anaesthetic agents in the 
U. S. Navy. Diminish mortality in a very notable proportion. 


P. A. Surgeon U. S. Navy." 

"U. S. Navy Yard, GospoRT, Va. 
" Samuel Barrington, Surgeon U. S. N. says they are used in the army 
and navy." 

" U. S. Steam Frigate San Jacinto, Gosport, Va. 
"I have witnessed the use of ether and chloroform as anEesthetic 
agents in the navy. These agents have been very generally employed 
in a great variety of cases, and with favorable effect. 

"Passed Ass't Surgeo7i, U. S. Navy." 


"U. S. Naval Rendezvous, Boston, January 30, 1852. 
"I have seen chloroform used in the Navy. * * * I would use it 
in all surgical operations when it was desirable to prevent pain. 

" GEO. MALTSBY, U. S. iV." 

" U. S. Marine Hospital, St. Louis. 
" My impression is, that they are used in the army and navy to a con- 
siderable extent, my impression being derived from an acquaintance 
with many of the medical statF of those ^ranches of the public service, 
from their publications in the medical journals of the country, and from 
their known disposition to keep pace with the progress of science. They 
are regarded as one of the greatest gifts that science could lay on the 
altar of humanity. They have now been used on perhaps millions of 
persons, indiscriminately, in both hemispheres. 

«CHAS. A. POPE, C/". S. iV." 

"U. S. Marine Hospital, New Orleans, Feh. 17, 1852. 
" As regards the use of ansesthetic agents, we have invariably em- 
ployed chloroform in operations; also for perineal section, for stricture 
of the urethra, and minor surgery, without any unpleasant results, and 
I think with more favorable convalesence. 

"Principal Physician and SurgeonJ" 

Dr. J. H. Hopkinson, U. S. navy, uses chloroform. 

Wm. Lowber, U. S. navy, says ether and chloroform is used. 

John H. Wright, passed assistant surgeon U. S. navy, uses them. 

D. B. Phillips, assistant surgeon U. S. navy, has used them. 

John L. Fox, surgeon U. S. Naval Hospital, Chelsea, says he has used 

John L. Eurtt; U. S. N., U. S. Naval Hospital, N. Y., uses chloroform. 

Geo. Blacknall, surg. U. S. N., Norfolk, Va., says they are usedw 

Wm. A. Nelson, M. D., U. S. navy, says it is used in the navy. 

D. S. Edwards, surgeon U. S. navy, says ether and chloroform are used 
in the navy. 

Charles S. Tripler, surgeon U. S. A., Fort Gratiot, Mich., uses them. 
R. 0. Wood, surgeon U. S. A., says it has been used in the army. 


A. S. Wotherspoon, assistant surgeon U. S. army— Surgeon General's 
Office — bears testimony to its high value. 

Josiah Simpson, assistant surgeon U. S. army, Fort Wood New York 
Harbor, uses ether. . ' 

Dr. Macklin, assistant surgeon, U. S. army, uses ether. 

L. D. Williams, Havre de Grace, says senesthetic agents are used. 

Ebenezer Swift, surgeon U.^., Fort Martin Scott, Texas, uses anajs- 
thetic agents. 

Dr. J. N. Schoolfield, Marine Hospital, Norfolk, Va., uses aneesthetic 

Dr. Henry S. Leveret, U. S. Marine Hospital, Mobile, uses anaesthe- 
tic agents. 

Dr. William Ingalls, U. S. Marine Hospital, Chelsea, Massachusetts, 
uses anaesthetic agents. 

Dr.^M. L. Hewitt, U. S. Marine Hospital, Cleaveland, Ohio, uses them. 

Alexander H. Hassier, Texas, assisstant surgeon U. S. army, uses 
anaesthetic agents. 

Thomas H. Williams, assistant surgeon U. S, army. Fort North, 
Texas, speaks highly of them. . 

T. C. Madison, U. S. army, uses anaesthetic agents. 

\_Extract of a letter Jrom Henry J. Bowditch, Physician of the Massa- 
chusetts Genej-al Hospital.'\ 

Boston, January 4, 1852. 
I presume that the discovery of the anaesthetic properties of ether, and 
its practical applicatio7i to medicine, will take a rank quite equal to that 
of vaccination. To no one does the world owe so much for this practi- 
cal application, as to Dr. Morton. In fact I am fully convinced that 
had it not been for the boldness of that gentleman, the world to the pre- 
sent hoier would have been ignorant of these peculiar adaptations of 
ether to alleviate human suffering. 1 say boldness noic. in former 
times, however, I said rashness ; for I believe I may say, without fear of 
contradiction, that the medical profession, as a body, would have feared 
death as the result, from experiments such as are now made daily with- 
out the least fear. Dr. Morton has convinced us from error. Doubtless 
he received suggestions from other similar experiments, made by several 
individuals, but 'to his indomitable perseverance do we, fnally owe all 
the essential good which the discoverer has bestowed on man. 


I hope therefore that Dr. Morton will receive a tribute of respect from 
Congress, that shall be commensurate with the great benefits that he 
has bestowed upon the nation. 

I remain, very respectfully, yours, 


[Extract of a letter from Henry J. Bigeloio, Professor in Harvard Uni- 
versity, and Surgeon in Massachusetts General Hosjntal.'] 

Boston, January 3, 1852. 
I trust that Dr. Morton will now at last receive a substantial and 
liberal return for his discovery, that ether can annul pain; 1. with 
safety — with less risk, for example, than everybody daily encounters 
either in walking or riding; 2. with certainty, in every case. 
I have the honor to be, respectfully, your obt. servant, 


W. H. BissELL, Chairman, ^c. 

\_Extract of a letter from James Jachson, M. D., Professor Emeritus of 
Theory and Practice of Physic in the University at Cambridge, Honor- 
ary Member of the Royal Medico- Chirurgical Society of London, ^c] 

Boston, January 5, 1852. 
I have, nevertheless, watched the new use of ether and chloroform 
with great interest from the first annunciation of this discovery by Dr. 
Morton ; and I will say, in general, that it would be difiicult to exagge- 
rate the benefits of these anaesthetic agents. 

The great and undoubted benefits of ether we sho'^n in surgical and 
obstetric practice ; and I believe these are such as to entitle the dis- 
coverer of its good effects, when employed by inhalation, to a very 
large reward. 

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant, 


Hon, W. H. BissELL. 

In a communication to the former committee of the House, Dr. Jack- 
son says : 

" In my opinion Dr. Morton is entitled to a grant from Congress, for 
the Ether discovery, more than any and all other persons in the world." 

\_Extract of a letter from Richard Girdler, M. D.] 

Boston, January 27, 1852. 

I w;as present at those operations when ether was first administered 
at the hospital; saw its effects with admiration and astonishment, and 
am witness to its successful application almost every day ; and hope 
the committee will report favorably upon the just claims of Wm. T. G. 


Morton, who I believe is entitled to the merit of the discovery and 
consequently should receive a fitting rew^ard. ' 
Very respectfully, sir, your obedient servant, 

Superintendent Massachusetts General Ilosnital. 
Hon. W. H. BissELL. • ^ 

{Extract of a letter from George Hayward, M. D., Professor of Harvard 
University, and Surgeon in Massacliueetts General Hospital.'] 

Boston, Janua)'y 8, 1852. 
I cannot close this letter without saying, that I regard sulphuric ether, 
the agent first used by Dr. Morton, as by far the best anaesthetic agent[ 
that I believe the world are indebted to him for its introduction into 
practice by proving by actual experiment what was not before known 
or generally believed, that it could be inhaled with safety. 

I certainly regard this discovery as one of the greatest of the age, 
and think that Dr. Morton is entitled to a liberal grant from our coun- 
try for the benefit that he has conferred on the human race. 
I am, with much respect, your obedient servant. 


Hon. W. H. BissELL. 

^ {Extract of a letter from Thomas P. Jackson.] 

Boston, February 4, 1852. 

I consider the discovery and introduction of sulphuric ether as an 
anaesthetic agent to be second to no discovery in medical science, not 
even to the discovery of vaccination, and that we are solely indebted 
for its introduction by Doct. Wm. T. G. Morton. 

My opinion is that no compensation Congress can confer on Dr. 
Morton will equal his deserts, and I really hope that for once a deserv- 
ing man may receive his recompense during his life, instead of having 
a monument erected over his grave. I would say, in conlusion, that I 
have not the slightest acquaintance with Doct. Morton, and that I be- 
lieve it is the general wish of the profession in this vicinity that Doct. 
Morton shall receive some remuneration for the benefits he has con- 
ferred on suffering humanity. 

Yours respectfully, 


. Hon. Wm. H. Bissell. 

[Extract of a letter from Dr. Putnam.] 

Boston, February 14, 1852. 
In regard to the estimate in which I hold it, (ether,) I cannot perhaps 
give a more satisfactory proof, than by stating that, immediately after 
niy.fe st experiments, I insisted on Dr. Morton's acceptance of a small 


sum of money in acknowledgment of my personal obligation to Bim, 
and as an earnest of what I considered to be his due from the whole 

With great respect, I am yours, 

To the Committee. OHAS. G. PUTNAM, M. D. 

{Extract of a letter from Augustus A. Gould, M. D.] 

Boston, January 15, 1852. 

I cannot but hope that Congress will do something noble in this case. 
Other nations have already bestowed honors and emoluments upon those 
they have deemed entitled in testimonial of their appreciation of this, 
the greatest boon which has yet been granted to the keenest sufferings 
of mankind. And it is not seemly that our own nation should pass by 
in silence one of the greatest and most universally applicable discoveries 
which the world can boast of The person or persons instrumental in 
bestowing it deserve substantial reward. 

I have happened to know every step in the early introduction of the 
use of ether as an anaesthetic agent. And I am familiar with the odi- 
um, the denunciations, and the persecutions, and threatened persecu- 
tions which were so liberally showered at its introduction. They came 
from honest men, whose experience had led them to apprehend serious 
danger. But with firmness of purpose, disregard of threats, and no lack 
or stint of expense, the demonstration was soon complete, and all ra- 
tional opposition has long since been silent; and now it is not only a 
subject for national pride and national gratitude, but it commands and 
receives the gratitude of the world. 

Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 


{Extract of a letter from Albion S. Dudley, M. DJ] 

Boston, February 3, 1852. 

Dr. Morton certainly was the first in this city to reveal the anassthetic 
effects of the sulphuric ether to the public, and successfully introduce it 
into the Massachusetts Medical College, to my certain knowledge. 

J have the honor to be, yours respectfully, 

To the Hon. W. H. Bissell. ALBION S. DUDLEY. 

{Extract of a letter from A. L. Peirson, M. DJ] 

Salem, January 17, 1852. 
I have toiled through five and thirty years of medical, and especially 
surgical practice, in a dense population, during most of the time in con- 
scious need of some paiu-destroying remedy, and I hail the discovery of 
the application of the properties of ether with devout gratitude to a 
beneficient Creator, who has vouchsafed such a blessing to suffering hu- 
manity ; and with sincere thankfulness to Dr. Morton as being the eflfcient 


and fortunate agent, by whose means it has been placed in the hands of 
the medical profession. For although the inhalation of ether, to produce 
intoxication, may not have been a new idea previous to October, 184G 
j^et Dr. Morton, at that time, partially demonstrated its safety, utility, and 
applicability, in making surgical operations painless, and was the'pro- 
curing cause of its being now employed by all classes of medical prac- 
tioners, in taking away that dread of human nature — pain. 

I have the honor to subscribe myself, very respectfully, 
Hon. W. H. BissELL. A. L. PEIRSON. 

[Letter from J. F. May, Professor of Surgery National Medical College, 


Washington, February 10, 1852. 
Sir : I have received your circular requesting of me an answer to the 
following inquiries: 

1st. Is ether or chloroform used as an anaesthetic agent in your Insti- 
tution ? 

2d. If used, to M'hat extent, in what classes of diseases, or of opera- 
tions, and with what effect? 

3d. What, in your opinion, is their effect in diminishing mortality? 

4th. To what extent, in what classes of cases, and with what result 
are they used in private practice in your vicinity? 

5th. In what appreciation are they held by the medical faculty within 
your knowledge ? 

I reply : 

1st. Chloric ether is always used by me and my colleagues, as an 
anaesthetic agent in every operation^of any importance, that is performed 
in the Washington Infirmary, of which institution I am one of the 

2d. For more than three years I have constantly used it, both in hos- 
pital and in private practice,'and it has never in a single instance, dis- 
appointed me in producing insensibility to pain, and I have never found 
its administration to be attended or followed by any serious result. I 
have given it at all ages, from the tender infant to the old and infirm 
man, and from a few moments to more than an hour at a time. I have 
performed under its influence many of the most important and capital 
operations of surgery ; among which I may mention lithotomy, strangu- 
lated hernia, the removal of tumors from various regions, the different 
amputations of both the upper and lower extremities, from the removal 
of a finger to disarticulation of the hip joint, &c. 

3d. I am perfectly convinced that the use of anaesthetic agents has 
greatly diminished the mortality of surgical operations, and I am pre- 
pared to say further, that I would almost as soon think of amputating a 
limb without previously compressing its principal artery, as to perform 
a difiicult and dangerous operation without first putting the patient in 
an an£Esthetic state. I consider it, in fact, so important an element to 
the success of the surgeon in severe and formidable operations, by pre- 
venting all shock to the system, that I think he ought to decline any 
operation of magnitude and danger, should he meet with a refusal on 
the part of the patient to be subjected to its influence. But fortunateU 


there are few who are not only willing, but anxious to be soothed by the 
magic spell which, to the victim, robs surgery*of nearly all its terrors, 
and to the surgeon brings pleasure, from the knowledge that he inflicts 

no pain. , .... 

4th. I believe that all important surgical operations m private prac- 
tice in this vicinity, are performed under anaesthetic influence, and with 
the results that I have already mentioned. 

5th. I believe that the medical faculty throughout the civilized world, 
where anaesthesia has been introduced, consider it to be one of the 
greatest boons that has ever been given to suffering man ; and believing 
i)r. Morton to be its discoverer, I. trust he will receive from the Govern- 
ment a compensation commensurate with the immense benefit it has 
conferred upon the human race. 

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, &c., 

Hon. W. H. BissELL. JNO. FRED'K MAY. 

[Extract of a letter from Alex. H. Steevens, M. D.] 

New York, January 5, 1852. 
Without the slightest knowledge of Dr. Morton, or of any one con- 
nected, or claiming to be connected with this discovery, and without as- 
suming that he is mainly the discoverer, which yet I believe, I take leave 
to state that 'the claims of scientific discoverers to reward is-a strong 
one. , 

The community is taxed by patent rights for inventions to the amount 
of many millions annually. The men of science paying themselves a part 
of these taxes, and bringing to light, by their unpaid labors, scientific 
discoveries from which these inventions in a great measure take their 
rise, are left entirely, in this country, without any reward whatsoever. 
In Europe they are rewarded, besides that they are supported by sala- 
ries attached to their membership of scientific institutions. 

In view of these considerations, and looking not only to what is just 
as between science and government, but what is, in a very high degree 
and altogether beyond the appreciation of unlearned men, expedient, as 
respects the interest of the government, liberal rewards should be given 
for unpatented discoveries. 

With very great respect, I am, very truly, your obedient servant, 

The Hon. W. H. Bissell. ALEX. H. STEEVENS. 

P. S. From an official connection with the three great hospitals in this 
city, embracing about 3,000 patients, I am enabled to state that anaas- 
thelic agents are generally used in puerperal cases, in painful chronic 
diseases, in the reduction of fractures and dislocations, and in other cap- 
ital surgical operations, many of which are rendered more successful, 
and not a few only practicable by their use. I consider it the greatest 
discovery in medicine since that of Jenner. It is to the healing art, what 
steam navigation, electro-magnetism, and railroad travelling, are to com- 
mercial and social communications. 

A. H. S. 



[Extract of a letter from Hugh H. McGuire, M. D.] 

Winchester, Va. 

I regard the discovery of anaesthetic agents the most important dis- 
covery made in Surgery for the last century. It is also entirely Ameri- 
can, for although attempts have been made for a long time to destroy 
sensibility to Surgical operations, no approximation was made to it, 
until it was discovered in Boston, that sulphuric ether would produce 
total insensibility. Now it has been the practice in all enlightened 
countries to reward important discoveries in a very liberal manner, I do 
hope that an American Congress will not fail to follow the example. 
The use of these agents have become so common and general through- 
out Europe, that a late distinguished Professor, of Philadelphia, during 
a visit to Europe, was constantly asked, if it was possible any Surgeons 
in America could be found opposed to them, I have no hesitation in 
stating that not only is pain avoided, but many lives saved by their use, 
for the nervous shock, in consequence of serious operations, not unfre- 
quently ends in death. This is avoided by anaesthesia * * * 

It would be just and proper to make him a liberal pension for it. It 
would not only be an incentive and stimulus to further discoveries in 
this extensive field of science, but redound to the credit of the Govern- 
ment, here and abroad. 

Very truly, your friend. 

Hon. Chas. J. Faulkner. Prof. Surgery. 

Jacob Bigelow, M. D., President of the Academy of Arts and Sciences, 
Professor in Harvard University, and Physician to Massachusetts Gene- 
ral Hospital, in a letter to Hon. W. H. Bissell, says: 

" It is considered by myself, and by the more intelligent part of my 
medical friends, as the most important medical discovery of the present 

In an article published in the Medical and Surgical Journal of July 
7, 1847, he says: 

" In the case of Dr. Jackson, if he did make the discovery in 1842, as 
asserted, or even later, he stands accountable for the mass of human 
misery which he has permitted his fellow^creatures to undergo, from the 
time when he made his discovery, to the time when Dr. Morton made 
his. In charity, we prefer to believe, that, up to the latter period, he 
had no definite notion of the real power of ether in surgery, having seen 
no case of its application in that science." 

{Letter from Professor Simpson, the discoverer of Chloroform.'] 

Edinburgh, Novettiher 19, 1847. 

My Dear Sir : I have much pleasure in offering, for your kind accept- 
ance, the accompanying pamphlet. Since it was published we have had 
various other operations performed here, equally successful, i i^^ve a 
note from Mr. Listen, telling me also of its perfect success m London. 
Its rapidity and depth are amazing. 


In the Monthhj Journal of Medical Science for September I have a long 
article on etherization, vindicating your claims over those of Jackson. 

Of course, the great thought is that of producing insensilnlity ; and 
for that the world is, I think, indebted to you. 

I read a paper lately to our society, showing that it was recomnTended 
by Pliny, &c., in old tioies.. 

With very great esteem for you, allow me to subscribe myselt, 

Yours very faithfully, 


Dr. W. T. G. Morton. 

[Extract of a letter from J. Parkman, M. D., of Boston.'] 
Life may alsq, be saved from the more ready submission of the pa- 
tients to necessary operations, since they can be assured that they are 
painless. And inasmuch as pain and spasm do destroy life, it is fair to 
presume that agents relieving these must diminish mortality.^ 

In private practice in this city anaesthetic agents are in universal use 
in all surgical operations, and also in all the operations of midwifery. 
They are in quite general use in all diseases requiring an antidote to 
pain and spasm, as one of the means to allay them, and some practition- 
ers use them in all cases of child-birth. 

- I remain, very respectfullj% 

One of the Surgeons of the Mass. Gen. Hospital. 

Hon W. H. BissELL. 

[Extract of a letter from S. D. Townsend, M. D., of Bosto7i.'] 

It has been used almost daily for diseases of a spasmodic and painful 
character, and in all surgical operations, with the effect of relieving 
pain and annihilating perfectly all suffering in surgical operations. I 
believe it diminishes mortality, by relieving spasmodic diseases, and 
preventing the severe shock of surgical operations. In private practice 
it has been used to the same extent, and in the same classes of cases, 
and with the same result as occurring in the Massachusetts General 
Hospital, with the addition of cases of midwifery, in which it prevents 
the sensation of pain, without retarding delivery. 

Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

One of the Surgeons of the Mass. Gen. Hospital. 

[Extract of a letter from S. Mason Warren, M. D., of Boston.] 

Sulphuric ether and strong chloric ether, are used at the Massachu- 
setts General Hospital. Chloroform is not used. 

The above substances are used in almost every surgical operation, and 
in many diseases attended with severe pain. I have seen them exhib- 
ited in more than two thousand cases, including hospital and private 
practice, and never with any bad result. By preventing the severe 


shock to the system in surgical operations, it is probable that they have 
an influence in diminishing mortality. In surgical operations in private 
practice, 1 have used the chloric and sulphuric ethers, principally the 
former; also in many, obstetric cases, and to relieve suffering in pain- 
ful diseases, often as a substitute for opium ; and I believe them to be 
used by most other practitioners of Boston and the vicinity, for the same 
purposes, and virith a satisfactory result. 

Very respectfully, yours, 

One of the Surgeons of the Mass. Gen. Hospital. 
Hon. W. H. BissELL. 

[Extract of a letter from John Ware, M. D., of Boston.'] 

Their most important use is in the practice of midwifery. They are 
employed ver}^ generally in severe, protracted, and dangerous cases. 
My belief is, from my own experience, and from the concurrent testi- 
mony of all practitioners with whose opinions I am conversant, that they 
not only diminish, and sometimes annihilate, the suffering which is at- 
tendant on pai-turition, but that they lessen also the dread of it, which 
is so strong a feeling in the minds of females ; and further, that they ren- 
der patients less liable to the subsequent ill effects of severe labors, es- 
pecially those in which the use of instruments are necessary. 

I have employed or seen them emiployed in asthma, tn croup, in con- 
vulsions of children and adults, in neuralgia, in the spasmodic affections 
of fever, and in many other cases of a more indefinite character, into the 
description of which it is not now necessary to your purpose to enter. I 
have also employed them with signal advantage to alleviate the suffer- 
ings which occur toward the close of life, or in the act of death, in pa- 
tients who have had irrecoverable diseases. 

Their introduction is regarded by all practitioners within my circle of 
acquaintance, whose opinions I should regard as of value, as the most 
important discovery in practical medicine and surgery, which has been 
made since that of vaccination by Dr. Jenner. 

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

Hon. W. H. BissELL. JOHN WARE. 

[Extract of a letter from J. S. Jones, M. D., of Boston.] 

In the private practice in my vicinity the use of these anaesthetic 
agents is quite common in dentistry, in midwifery, and scarcely any ope- 
ration of surgery is performed without its use. The reduction of dislo- 
cations and the adaptation of fractured bones, are materially aided by 
the effects of ether, besides the freedom from suffering enjoyed by the 
injured person when under its effects. 

Respectfully, yours, 
Hon. W. H. BissELL. J- S. JONES. 

[Extract of a letter from Z. B. Adams, M. D., of Boston.] 
It is almost uniformly used, both in public and private practice, i 
dentistry, in midwifery, and in all surgical operations ; also to caus 


muscular relaxation in the reduction of hernia ; has been eminently suc- 
cessful in cases of cpnvulsions after delivery, and in alleviating the ex- 
crutiatino- pain caused by the passage of calculi through the ureters. It 
is an exceedingly rare thing to hear of any dangerous or even serious 
effects from the use of either ether or chloroform. The good effects are 
almost incalculable. 

Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 
Hon. W. H. BissELL. Z- B. ADAMS. 

[Extract from a letter written hy Dr. John Jeffries, Physician to the 
Massachusetts General Ilospital.l 

For my opinion of the benefits bestowed upon the world by Dr. Mor- 
ton, please allow me to refer you to a note addressed by me to the Hon. 
R. C. Winthrop : 

" Dr. Morton, who visits Washington to seek some remuneration from 
government for the benefit which he has conferred upon the country by 
the introduction of sulphuric ether, requests me to express to you my 
opinion (which I do most unreservedly) that the world is indebted en- 
tirely to Dr. Morton for the introduction of this agent to produce insen- 
sibility to pain, and that it is a physical blessing not second to any that 
has been conferred upon suffering humanity. 

■ff... " I sincerely hope that Dr. Morton will receive some remuneration for 
his very great benefaction. 

" With high respect, your obedient servant, 
" Hon. R. C. Winthrop. JOHN JEFFRIES. 

" Speaker of the House of Representatives." 

Oliver W. Holmes, the distinguished Poet, and a Physician to the 
Massachusetts General Hospital, held the following language in an 
opening address of the Medical College, Boston : 

''The knife is searching for disease, — the pulleys are dragging back 
dislocated limbs, — nature herself is working out the primal curse, which 
doomed the tenderest of her creatures to the sharpest of her trials; but 
the fierce extremity of suffering has been steeped in the waters of 
forgetful ness, and the deepest furrow in the knotted brow of agony has 
been smoothed for ever." 

Again, in a communication to the Hon. Isaac E. Morse, he says : 

"It is a notorious and wholly undisputed fact that Dr. Morton in per- 
son instituted the first decisive experiments, at the risk of his reputation, 
and with a courage and perseverance, without which, even had the idea 
of the possibility of such effects been entertained, the world might have 
waited centuries or indefinitely before the result was, reached. 

"It is well known that Dr. Morton, instead of profiting by his discov- 
ery, has suOered in mind, body and estate, in consequence of the time 
and toil he has consecrated to it. 

"I have no particular relations with Dr. Mprton, and no interest in 
conrimon with him to bias me in my opinion and feelings. But, remem- 
bering what other countries have done for their public benefactors, and 
unwilling to believe that a rich and prosperous republic cannot afibrd 


and will not incline to indulge its gratitude whenever a proper occasion 
presents itself, I have addressed you this line to tell you that I think 
now is the time and this is the man. 

"Hon. Isaac E. Morse. O. W. HOLMES." 

{Extract of a letter from Geo. B. Loring, M. D., Salem, Mass^ 

It is one month since I had charge of the Marine Hospital, Chelsea, 
Massachusetts ; and any statement based on personal experience, must 
be founded upon my practice there. 

In all operations, in all painful natural processes, in all diseases at- 
tended with great local suffering, the intelligent and philanthropic phy- 
sician avails himself of the great blessing. And while so much suffering 
is relieved, it cannot be doubted — in fact it is satisfactorily proved that 
mortality attending these operations, processes, and diseases, is mate- 
rially diminished. 

As the interrogatories addressed to me have grown out of an inquiry 
into the " claims of Wm. T. G. Morton, of Boston, to the merit of the 
discovery," it may be proper to state to the committee that its credit 
has been from the earliest date, almost universally accorded to Dr. 
Morton by those of the profession who have given it their careiul inves- 
tigation. During its development, the surgeons and officers of the 
Massachusetts General Hospital, examined its merits, under the special 
guidance of Di'. Morton, and with a full recognition of his sole agency 
in the practical experiments which were leading to its establishment. 
And now that those events have passed into history, the Histoi'ioe of the 
hospital, records as a fact fixed by all reliable testimony, that Dr. Morton 

is the discoverer. .... n ■, . 

It should be borne in mind that this is the verdict of the immediate 
locality in which the discovery was made ; and any recognition from 
abroad of Dr. Jackson'^ claims to it is no more than should be expected 
from the scientific world towards any pertenacious and untiring claim- 
ant holding his high position, be the claims true or false. 

Hon. W. H. BissELL. GEO. B. LORING. 

[Extract from a letter written by Dr. Francis Boott, of London.'] 
" I was much interested in the discussion of the Ether question, and 
PTiterelv agree with you in your conclusion. I should say, as in the 
ra^P of the vacht-race, 'Morton is first, and Jackson no where. I am 
fflad to find you are making a gallery of portraits of your benefactors 
and distinguished medical men, and ^Morton's should be among them. 
/ still hope Congress will reward him." 
Hon. W. H. BissELL. 

[Extract of a letter from S. Paris, M. D., of Greensboro, Alabama.'] 
The medical faculty appreciate it highly, and seem at a loss to know 
how thev would pracrice without it, nor could a man be sustained by his 
medical brethren or the community, who would refuse to use it. In fine, 
[r?s to the medical profession the ^-^^-^ "j^l^^^^^^^^^ 
hardly excepting quinine. V ery ^espectmn.^ 

Hon. W. H. BissELL. 


[Extract of a letter from James Ayer, M. D., of Boston.'] 

The cases in which they are more especially employed, are in nearly 
all sur"-ical operations where suffering is an attendant ; in surgical dis- 
eases generally painful, and frequently protracted. They are also used 
in diseases of a spasmodic character, as cholera, cramps, colic, asthma, 
and in rheumatism and neuralgia. A great variety of cases in mid- 
wifery, as well as hysteria and convulsions, and many other painful dis- 
eases which might be added to this list, are very essentially relieved by 
these remedies. Your obedient servant, 

Hon. W. H. BissELL. JAMES AYER. 

[Extract of a letter from P. M. Crane, M. D., of East Boston.l 

In nearly all the operations of surgery which are likely to be attended 
with pain, either chloric ether, sulphuric ether, or chloroform, are used. 
So uniform is the belief in their utility, that no surgeon at the present 
time would do without them. In obstetric practice they are also exten- 
sively used where cases occur requiring instrumental interference, but 
are not much employed in natural labor. 

With much respect, 
Hon. W. H. BissELL. P. M. CRANE. 

[Extract-of a letter from John H. Dix, M. D., of Boston.] 

In all painful operations upon the globe of the eye and its appenda- 
ges, these agents afford incalculable relief, both physically and mentally. 
The severe operations upon the internal textures of the globe of the eye, 
not in themselves painful, but requiring for their satisfactory p'erform- 
ance absolute immobility of the organ, these agents insure what, in 
young subjects especially, was heretofore only approximated to. 

In the few operations of ophthalmic surgery which endanger life, I 
find from the use of these agents a diminished tendency to inflammatory 
action within the cranium, and therefore less hazard to life. In aural 
surgery, though not frequently required, anaesthetic agents are of great 
value, chiefly in the removal of morbid growths from the external or 
internal ear. I believe that no other discovery in the whole range of 
medicine and surgery, (with the exception, perhaps, of vaccination,) has 
in the same time contributed so much to relieve suffering and prolong 
life. Yours, respectfully, 

Hon. W. H. BissELL. JOHN H. DIX. 

[Extract of a letter from John Appleton, M. D., West Newhurg. Mass.] 
I have lately observed good effect follow the inhalation of chloroform 
during a paroxyism of severe suffering from dysmenorrhea, in which 
relief was almost instantaneous. 

It is, however, in obstetric practice that I have most frequently used 
these valua.ble agents, and 1 regard their usefulness in this relation as 
among the most valuable results of their discovery. ' 
Respectfully, yours, &c., 


Hon. W. H. BissELL. 


[Extract of a letter f rom L. B. Morse, M. D., Boston, 3Iass.] 
They are used in most cases of important or capital surgery, in many 
cases of delerium tremens, tetanus, and similar neuralgic diseases, and in 
dental surgery, also, by some of our medical practitioners in common 
use in midwifery. 

It diminishes mortality in three ways: 1st. In severe surgical opera- 
tions, by entire relief from nervous excitability and reaction which at- 
tend them ; 2d. By giving time for the use of the knife, and the careful 
completion of a dangerous operation, in the perfect quietude of the 
patient; 3d. The rest secured by some patients in certain neuralgic 
diseases, which if not attained, death is the result. 
I am, sir, your obedient servant, 


Hon. W. H. Bissell. 

[Extract of a letter from L. H. Anderson, M. D., Sumterville, Ala.] 

I think aucEsthetics diminish mortality in two ways: 1st. By pre- 
venting the shock of pain on the nervous system ; 2d. By securing per- 
fect immobility or the patient, and enabling the surgeon to operate^more 
safely and exactly. 

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant, 


Hon. W. H. Bissell. 

[Extract of a letter from S. Blanding, M. D., Columbia, S. C] 

Its use has induced patients to submit to the knife early; when 
otherwise they would have resulted fatally. 

1 consider it one of the most important discoveries of the,age in miti- 
gating human suffering, and often in saving life. 
I have the honor to be, yours, &,c,, 


Hon. W. H. Bissell. 

[Extract of a letter from William Ellis, M. D., Oglethorpe, (?«.] 

It is my deliberate opinion, founded upon experience, that their eflects 
in diminishing mortality is more than fifty to one, for, if properly ad- 
ministered, the effect is to take away all fear from the patient, and ab- 
solutely free the nervous system from irritation, and thereby pr(r\'ent 
any interruption in the various organs in performing their functions 
naturally and of course healthily. 

In private practice its most happy and beneficial eflects is in obstet- 
rics, nothing is or can be of so much value to a woman in labor in 
proportion to the difficulty attending labor; so is its benefits, and if in 
no other, in this class of cases alone, it is the greatest discovery in any 
age of the world for the relief of suffering humanity; deprive me of its 
benefits, and 1 should almost if not altogether abandon my profession. 

Hon. W. H. Bissell. WILLIAM ELLIS. 









The Senate having under consideration the bill 
making appropriations for the support of the Army 
for the year ending June 30th, 1853 — 

Mr. BORLAND, from the Committee on Mili- 
tary Affairs, submitted the following amendment, 
to come in after the appropriation for the medical 
and hospital department of the Army: 

To enable the President of tlie United States to procure 
the surrender of the patent issued to William T. G. Morton 
on the 12th day of November, 1846, for his discovery of the 
unaisthetic properties of sulphuric ether, $100,000. 

Mr. BORLAND. Mr. President, if the Senate 
■will give me their attention for a few moments, I 
think I can put this matter on its true merits. 
The proposition is to appropriate $100,000 to en- 
able the President of the United States to purchase 
from a patentee his patent, or the privilege of using 
property to which ne holds exclusive right under 
his patent. 

The firstinquiry that we make is: Is that which 
we propose to purchase valuable? — and, if it is, 
what is its value.' I will not undertake to go into 
a detail of facts, or any argument to show the 
value of the discovery of the application of sul- 
phuric ether as an anaesthetic agent. It is a sub- 
ject which has been before the public so long, that 
I apprehend every Senator is familiar with its his- 
tory, and the character of the discovery. I state 
what I apprehend no one will controvert — I state 
as a member of the medical profession, represent- 
ing, in that respect, I think truly, the universal 
sentiment of the profession throughout the world — 
that as a discovery beneficial to the human race, 
if it be second to any which has ever been given 
to the world, it is second to vaccination alone. I 
know that the universal sentiment of the medical 
profession, so far as that sentiment has been ex- 
pressed, is, that it is second to vaccination. 

Then, sir, for the estimation in which it is held 
bytheofficersof our Government, who haveavniled 
themselves of its use in the public service, I have 
before me letters from the Secretary of War, from 
the Secretary of the Treasury, from the Secretary 
of the Navy, from the head of the Medical Depart- 
ment of the Navy, and from the head of the Med- 

ical Department of the Army — all concurring in 
assigning to this discovery, as used in the public 
service, the very highest value; and expressing the 
wish , that the Government might, by proper means, 
avail itself of the right to use it in the public service. 
I will not read these letters. It would occupy too 
much time of the Senate to do so. But if anj^ 
Senator should desire their reading, they can br 
read. All assume, that it is of the very highes: 
value, both to the Army and Navy; that it ha?, 
been availed of for years past; and that incalculable 
benefits have resulted to the public, in saving life 
and allaying human suffering, greater than has 
ever been derived from any one source. It is a 
welhknown fact, that, in the Army and Navy, in 
the performance of all important surgical opera- 
tions, this agent is now very rarely, if ever dis- 
pensed with. And not only so, in the Army and 
Navy — not only is it used in saving life anti suf- 
fering on the part of our soldiers, and our sailors, 
but throughout the private practice of the country, 
the most eminent surgeons and physicians resort 
to it now habitually, and declare that it has be- 
come one of the most important and valuable agents 
which they have in the profession. If there were 
time, I could go on for hours in giving the partic- 
ulars, giving the modus operandi, giving the cases 
by name, and by number, till they would count 
thousands upon thousands; but there is no time 
at this period of the session for that. 

The next point I would present is, how far it 
is recommended to our consideration The Select 
Committee of the House of Representatives, to 
whom this matter was referred — although, as the 
Senator from Connecticut suggests, they did not 
formally make their report, yet it was only be- 
cause no opportunity was afforded for them to 
do so — have prepared a report — it is here be- 
fore me — a most elaborate, learned, and conclusive 
report as to the incalculable value of this ao-ent, 
and the propriety, in the opinion of that conimit- 
tee, of its being availed of by the Government. 

Sir, it may be asked if this be so valuable if 

this individual has a patent for it, why does he 
not avail himself of the use of the patent, and prr 


vent the use of sulphuric ether as an anccsthetic 
agent williout recompense to him ? I need Imrdly 
remind the Senate of the fact, that it is one of 
those cases in which he cannot enforce his legal 
rights. How can he, sir? Why, this agent is 
used in every State and county in this Union; and 
it may be, and perhaps is, used in ahnosl every 
family where physicians |iractice. He has no 
practical remedy for the violation of his patent. 
Caji he go to the bedside of the sick and suffering 
patient, who is undergoing an operation under the 
influence of this agent, and lay an injunction upon 
its use on such an occasion? Certainly not. It 
is one of those cases which must strike the mind 
of every man that his patent, so far as the legal 
remedy extends, is worthless to him, although he 
has the legal right, for he holds the patent from 
the United States to its exclusive use for a certain 
term of years. 

The next question is. Is the individual who 
holds the patent lawfully entitled, if any one, to 
be paid for the use of this agent ? I say, he is. I 
have before me here a copy of his patent, and of 
the record in our Patent Office. The official acts 
of our officers have recognized and established, as 
oitr laws require, the identity of this individual as 
the lawful owner. It has been stated, I know, and 
may be repeated, that there is an adverse claimant; 
that there is another individual who claims to be the 
discoverer, and who has a title to at least a portion 
of the compensation which we propose to pay. But 
to meet that I have to show that if that individual 
ever had any right to be considered the discoverer, 
orany title to compensation, it has been relinquished 
for a consideration in favor of Dr. Morton ; for here 
I have from the Patent Qffice an official announce- 
ment to that effect, which is signed by Dr. Jackson , 
the only individual that I know of who sets up an 
adverse claim to this discovery. But there is evi- 
dence before us from the very highest medical men 
in the country, and from the very highest medical 
officers of the Army and Navy, all recognizing 
Dr. Morton as the discoverer of this invaluable 
agent. But even if that were not so, the only 
other individual who sets up a claim to it has 
already, in the most solemn form, relinquished it 
forever, and assigned over to Dr. Morton all right 
or claim which he (Dr. Jackson) ever did have 
or could have. So that the point is settled that 
Dr. Morton stands before us as the patentee law- 
fully entitled to this discovery as the original dis- 

In the next place, lest it might occur to the 
minds of some that purchasing the right from a 
patentee to use a valuable discovery is a new thing 
in our Government, I beg leave to call attention 
to the records, which show that it is no new prac- 
tice, but for years and years has been repeated 
over and over again. I will cite a few cases. We 
paid for the right to make anchors of a certain 
form for the Navy, $1,500; for the use of circular 
bullet moulds, $5,00U; for the use of gas in vapor 
baths, |5,000; for elevating and pointing heavy 
cannon, $20,000; for the right to use patent anti- 
attrilion metal, $20,000. We paid to the heirs of 
Robert Fulton, for benefits conferred by his im- 
provements in steam navigation, $76,300. We 
paid for Mix's manger stopper, used in the cavalry 
service, $.3,000. We paid to Dr. Locke, for the 
use of his magnetic clock, $10,000. We paid to 
McCulloch & Booth, for the right to use the im- 

E roved method of refuiing our argentiferous gold 
ullion, $25,000; — thus making an aggregate of 

$165,000 paid in these cases. But, in addition to 
these, there have been numerous instancesin which 
patent rights, or tiie privilege of u.sing in the ser- 
vice of the Government patented articles, have been 
purchased by the Departments, some of which 
instances I find cited in connection with the report 
of the Select Committee of the House of Repre- 
sentatives, for which were paid $178,032; making 
an aggregate of $343,000 paid by the United Stales 
for patents and the use of patented articles. 

Since I have been a member of the Senate, when 
meritorious individuals have come before us, who 
had made important discoveries, we have aided 
them to test their discoveries by appropriations, 
amounting in the whole to $120,000. 

I mention these facts to show that precedents 
are all in favor of sucfi use of the public money 
to enable the Government to avail itself of im- 
portant discoveries. 

I will not detain the Senate by saying more on 
this subject. I will briefly sum up. This discov- 
ery is a most valuable one to the human family at 
large. The two branches of our public service, 
the Army and Navy, have availed themselves ex- 
tensively of it. It is one of the most valuable 
remedial agents that the world has ever known. 
It is in constant and growing use. This idea 
which we are thus using, not only prolongs hu- 
man life, and protects our soldiers and our sailors, 
and all in our public service from immense suffer- 
ing, but it is saving, in that mode of treating 
diseases, thousands upon thousands of dollars 
every year and every month. This individual 
cannot enforce his legal rights against anybody, 
owing to the very nature of the case. We are 
making use of his property to our great benefit, 
and he is receiving no compensation whatever for 
it. Then the papers before me, as I have read 
them, show that he is the individual who is enti- 
tled to compensation, if any one, for the use of 
this property. We find that the practice of the 
Government — a vei-y enlightened and useful prac- 
tice, in iny opinion — has been in favor of appro- 
priations of this sort. Then, sir, I ask if this is 
not a proper occasion for the continuance of this 
practice? When was there ever before us a more 
meritorious case ? The medical profession through- 
out the country sustain me in the assertion that 
this is the most valuable remedial agent that ever 
has been known. How can we, then, in justice 
to ourselves, in common justice to the individual 
who has furnished us this valuable, or rather 
invaluable remedy, refuse to pay him for it? 

Mr. SMITH. That a discovery has been 
made, I admit; and that discovery is, that the ef- 
fect of ether, taken into the lungs, is to produce 
insensibility in the human system. I agree with 
the honorable gentleman from Arkansas, that this 
substance, when taken into the lungs, will produce 
insensibility in the subject under the 0|ieration of 
the knife. I agree with him, that it is a great boon 
to humanity; but I deny that it is a patentable dis- 
covery. And I pledge whatever reputation I 
may have, that if the Senate will allow rne, at the 
next session of Congress, an opportunity to be 
heard on this subject, I will make out a case for 
the family of Dr. Horace Wells, deceased. If the 
subject shall then be referred to the judgment of a 
committee of this body, 1 will be prepared to make 
out a case worthy the most grave and serious con- 

I Mr. GWIN. Mr. President, as I formerlv be- 
I longed to the medical profession, I wish to indorse 


everything that has been said by n;y friend from , 
Arkansas in regard to this vahialile agent. I con- I 
fess that 1 came to the examination of this ques- 
tion with extreme rektctance. I had been out of 
the profession for many years, and 1 attempted in 
every way I possibly could to throw it off; but, 
having been requested by those whom I could not 
disoblige, to look into it, [ must acknowledge that 
this is one of the most important discoveries that 
has ever been made in the medical profession; 
and this gentleman being the patentee, I could look 
upon it in no other light than that, as we have 
availed ourselves of his property — for his patent 
is his property — we should in equity and justice 
recompense him for it. I came to this conclusion 
with reluctance; for I was very much disposed, 
without examination, to go against the claim. 
But having examined it, I could do nothing less 
than to add my testimony to that of the Senator 
from Arkansas, both of us having been in the 
medical profession. 

Mr. SHIELDS. I beg to state how the matter 
came before the Committee on Military Affairs. 
The subject was investigated by a Select Com- 
mittee of the House of Representatives, and I was 
informed that the claims which the honorable Sen- 
ator from Connecticut says he represents, were 
examined before that committee, and that commit- 
tee has reported. One of my colleagues in the 
House, [Mr. Bissei.l,] a physician by profession — 
and permit me to say, not only an able physician, 
but as veracious a gentleman as any in Congress — 
assured me that after a full and fair inquiry, insti- 
tuted by him and the residue of the committee, of 
which the late lamented Mr. Rantoul, who was a 
highly-educated and well-informed man, was a 
member, and after all the claimants had been 
heard, and after an examination of the evidence, 
the committee had come to the unanimous conclu- 
sion, that Dr. Morton wais the discoverer of this 
great remedial agent. It is a subject which I did 
not very well understand myself. The Commit- 
tee on Military Affairs, therefore, committed it to 
the honorable Senator from Arkansas, who is a 
physician by profession, and who understands tlie 
whole subject. A professional gentleman of the 
other House, eminent in his profession, and a 
highly-educated man — a man of veracity and hon- 
or, assured me that the committee of that body had 
thus determined, after a full and fair inquiry. 

It has been stated that this is one of the great- 
eat discoveries of modern times. I believe it is. 
Of that, however, I only know this — that if this 
remedial agent had been known when the honor- 
able Senator from Connecticut says he understood 
it was, it was unpardonable that its use was not 
applied to the American army in the late war with 
Mexico. It was criminal that it was not applied, 
if it was known, and it was wicked in that gentle- 
man to withhold his information from the country 
on .such an occasion as that; for, sir, I believe it 
v/ould have saved thousands and thousands of 

Mr. CLEMENS. No doubt of it. 

Mr. SHIELDS. Any man who witnessed the 
scenes which some of us were there called upon 
to witness, well knows that such an agent would 
have saved thousands of lives. Sir, thousands of 
our bravest and best men fell under the pains and 
nfllictions that followed surgical operations. I 
have seen so much of that, that I was rejoiced to 
have an opportunity, when I found there was I 
such an agent discovered, to give it my support | 

in any way; and although I wos not acquainted 
with the subject, I was happy to have it in my 
power to turn it over to the honorable Senator 
from Arkansas, who was acquainted with it. I 
venture to say that there is not a professional man 
in America or in Europe, who will not consider 
this the most beneficial discovery since the dis- 
covery of vaccination . 

I cannot tell whether Dr. Morton is the dis- 
coverer or not; I know that those who have ex- 
amined the subject thoroughly say that he is the 
discoverer. I have seen in addition, for he has 
shown it to me, the medal of one of the first med- 
ical institutions in the world — that of Paris — ac- 
knowledging, and in the name of France pronoun- 
cing him the discoverer of this agent, and that he 
had been able — for it was a good fortune on his 
part — to make a discovery which has been more 
beneficial to humanity, than any discovery made 
in the medical professions since the time of vaccin- 

Mr. HALE. I am not one of those who ob- 
ject to the proposition on account of the amount 
of money. If this discovery really belongs to 
Dr. Morton, it is no more than right that we 
should pay for it; because, whatever may be the 
value of the patent right, it is such a discovery 
that he cannot enforce his patent rights. It seems 
to me that the Government of the United States, 
having granted a patent by their own officers, are 
estopped from denying its validity; and as the 
Government are making use in the Army and 
Navy so extensively, it seems to me but fair to 
compensate this gentleman. 

I have been through the Massachusetts general 
hospital, where this remedial agent was first intro- 
duced, and where it was tested. I went through 
all the wards and rooms of that hospital, and I 
saw every form of disease and suffering. I went 
into the dissecting room, and I confess my blood 
almost ran cold as I looked at the instruments of 
torture, as they appeared tome, which were about 
the room; but I was assured by the physicians 
attending upon that hospital that, by the use of 
this remedial agent, patients were insensible to the 
operation of these instruments of torture — that the 
effect of it was to make them go quietly to sleep; 
and that the most difficult and dangerous opera- 
tions were performed there every day, without 
those on whom they were performed being sensi- 
ble of them. That great hospital is one of the 
finest charities on the face of the earth; and by 
the operation of this agent the most revolting sur- 
gical operations are performed every day, while 
the patients are, as it were, in a deep sleep. 

I do not believe there has been a greater con- 
tribution made to thecause of humanity anywhere. 
I do not put this discovery second to vaccination, 
or anything else; and if the Senate are determined 
to vote upon it to-day, I hope they will make this 
appropriation; and with my present convictions, 
although I should be glad to postpone the subject 
until the next session, in order to avoid all danger 
of injustice, I must vote for this appropriation.'' 

Mr. DOUGLAS. I shall occupy but a few 
moments as to the cloim of Dr. Wells. I hold 
here a paper which has been laid on our tables, 
and which I understand to be an abstract of testi- 
mony taken in the House of Representatives. I 
find here two letters, which have passed between 
Dr. Morton and Dr. Wells, putting to rest the 
claim of Dr. Wells, brought forward by the Sena- 
tor from Connecticut. When Dr. Morton made 


his discovery, as he alleges, he wrote to his old 
friend and partner, Dr. Wells, to this elTect: 

^•vir..-.L/ F. r. ...-^ — irt.iti kill. I wmt; lu iMu>rin yoii mai 
Ilinve (lisroviTi'd n prcpiiration, liy inlmliii!; wliic'li, a |)or 
son is thnnvn intn smiiid sleep. The tiinn rcqriln^d to 
produce sleep is only a few moiiieiits, and the time in 
Which persons remain asle(!p can be ref>ulitled at pleasure. 
While ill this state the severest surgical or dental opcia- 
lioiis may bo peilnrmeit, the patient not (■xperienciiiK the 
sliKlitest pain. I have perleeted il, and am now about 
sending out assents to dispose of the right to use it. I will 
dispose of a right to an individual to use it in his own prac- 
tice alone, or ("or a town, county, or State. Mv object in 
writing you is to know rf you would not lilte to visit New 
York and the other cities, and dispose of rights upon shares. 
I liave used the compound in more than one hundred and 
si.vty cases in eximeting teeth, and I have been invited to 
administer to patients hi the Miissachusetis general hos- 
pital, and have succeeded in every case. 

Tlie Professors, Warren and llnyward, have given rrje 
written certiticatea to this eftect. I have administered it at 
t!ie Iiospital iu the presence of the stiidenls and physiciau.s — 
ihe room for operations being as full as possible. For fur- 
ther particulars I will refer }'0u to extracts from the daily 
journals of this city, which I forward to you. 

Respectfully yours, WILLIAM T. G. MORTON. 

Let us see what Dr. Wells said in reply: 

Hartford, Connecticct, Octoher 211, 1846. 
Dr. Morton— Dear Sir: Your letter dated yesterday, ia 
just received, and I hasten to answer it, for fear you will 
adopt a method iu disposing of your rights, which will de- 
feat your object. Before you make any urraiigeuients what- 
ever, I wish to see you. I think I will be in Boston the 
lirsi of next week — probably Monday night. If the opera- 
tion of administering the gas is not attended with too much 
trouble, and will produce the effect you state, it will, un- 
doubtedly, be a fortune to you, provided it is rightly man- 
aged. Yours, iu haste, H. WELLS. 

Now, upon the face of these two documents, 
I do not understand exactly how it is broadly 
asserted here, that Dr. Wells is the inventor or 
discoverer of this remedial agent. 

I confess that before I examined the matter my 
prejudices were against this claim, until my col- 
league in the other House, [Mr. Bissell,] who is 
a regularly-educated physician, a man of great 
intelligence, who has had practice as a physician, 
took it up, and as chairman of that Select Com- 
mittee gave it a thorough investigation. This 
report produced entire conviction upon my mind 
that Dr. Morton was entitled to the credit of this 

I do not mean, nor does that report mean, that 
he discovered sulphuric ether, or that he was the 
first man that ever administered sulphuric ether, 
but .simply that he discovered the application of 
sulphuric ether with reference to destroying pain 
in surgical operations, and that he discovered it to a 
degree and extent in which it had not before been 
administered, and in which it was supposed, was 
not safe to administer it. He risked his own life 
by experiments upon his own person; and then 
he administered it to other persons and ran the 
risk of a prosecution for malpractice in the event 
that it should fail. I became satisfied from the 
testimony that he alone made the experiments, 
and he alone introduced it to the public; that he 
introduced it first into the general hospital of 
Massachusetts, and from there to the world; that 
he took the entire, .sole, and exclusive responsi- 
bility of the use and introduction of this agent, 
until its entire success had been established. 

I also find from the report, that while these ex- 
periments were going on — while it was doubtful 
■whether they would prove successful — Dr. Jfick- 
son was ridiculing and denouncing Dr. Mortoii ns 
a reckless man, who was hazarding the life of his 
patients by administering this agent to them, and 

that he never set up his claim, although experi- 
ments were being made in the immediate vicinity 
of his own house, until after those experiments 
had proven successful, and the judgment of the 
world was about to be pronounced in favor of Dr. 
Morton, and of this invention that had been made 
by hini. 

I find this in the report of the committee of the 
House of Representatives, and I understand that 
both parties were represented before that commit- 
tee. Taking, then, the report of that committee, 
before whom both parties were represented in per- 
son, and by their counsel, where testimony was 
adduced, and taking tliat report in connection with 
the judgment of the general hospital of Massachu- 
setts, where the first experiments were made, and 
taking all the testimony together, I cannot doubt 
that the credit is solely due to Dr. Morton. 

Mr. WALKER. Mr. President, I will ask 
the attention of the Senate for a very fewmoments, 
I profess to be one who has looked into this matter 
from its foundation to its capstone. I have read 
everything that has been printed; everything that 
is extant on the part of both parties; and I believe 
everything which they have in manuscript. 

After Dr. Morton had administered this anajs- 
thetic agent in his dental establishment, he imme- 
diately resorted to the Massachusetts general 
hospital. He got the consent of .such men as 
Dr. Warren, Dr. Hay ward, and Dr. Bigelow, 
that he might there administer it in a capital oper- 
ation. That operation was performed on the 16th 
of October, 1846. Again he performed an opera- 
tion on the 17th of October, and so he continued 
down to the 2d January, 1847, when these sur- 
geons say was the first they ever heard of the 
claim of Dr. Jackson. The most distinguished 
medical men in America swear and certify to this. 
But this is not all. This matter underwent a seri- 
ous and candid investigation before the medical 
men, the surgeons, and trustees of that institution, 
and they came solemnly to the conclusion, first, 
that Dr. Jackson had never made any discovery 
in regard to ether which had not been known long 
before. Second, that Dr. Morton did, in 1846, 
manifest, and make plain, and publish to the 
world, that sulphuric ether, adiuinistered in proper 
quantities and in a proper manner, would produce 
entire insensibility to any operation. They also 
decided most solemnly against the claims of Dr. 
Wells. Not only is that so, but we have here 
under the hand of Dr. Wells, an acknowledgment 
that the discovery was Dr. Morton's. Dr. Wells 
not merely acknowledged it to be Dr. Morton's 
discovery, but gave him advice about it, and said 
it would be a fortune to him if he managed it 

Did the general hospital of Massachusetts stop 
there.' No, sir. Dr. Jackson came forward before 
those great men, and expressed his dissatisfaction 
at the decision which they had made. He prayed 
that they might review their decision, and at his 
request they did review it, one year afterwards, 
and Clime solemnly again to the decision to which 
they had previously come. This was in Boston, 
where the parties lived. This decision wasarrived 
at by the most scientific men of the continent of 
America, if not of the world. They reviewed 
their decision, had the claims again laid before 
them, and came again, solemnly, to the same con- 

In the mean time, however, and while Dr. Jack- 
son was denouncing Dr. Morton as a " reckless" 


man; as one who had made no discovery whatever, 
and who would kill somebody if he did not stop 
his experiments, wrote a letter to M. Elie de Beau- 
mont, of the Academy of Arts and Sciences of 
Paris. I'hat letter was sent under secret seal, and 
it was dated November 13, 1846, just at the very 
time when he was denouncing Dr. Morton as a 
reckless wretch who would kill somebody. He 
sent that letter, with a request that it should not 
be opened until he gave further information in 
regard to it. The investigation went on before 
these daring men of the Massachusetts general 
hospital, and by Dr. Morton, no less daring, until 
the 2d of November, 1846; and in this country. 
Dr. Jackson was never heard of as claiming the 
discovery before that time. In December, 1846, 
he wrote another letter, requesting M. De Eeau- 
mont to open the sealed package. He opened it 
and read it, and, on the spur of the occasion, 
M. Velpeau answered it with a sneer, and said: 

"The sfii-ret contained in the note wliicli lias been read 
is no longer a secret; llie medical jouinals publislied in 
America and England iiave divulged it in the months of 
November and December. A letter from Dr. Whrren, of 
Boston, communicated the information to me more than one 
month ago; and Dr. Willis Fislier, of the same city, pro- 
posed that 1 should try its eSects at La Chaiile towards the 
middle of last December." 

That letter of Dr. Jackson's was thus answered 
by a no less distinguished man than M. Velpeau, 
before the Academy of Arts and Sciences in Paris. 
But this secret letter had a fatal effect — an effect 
which I am .sure the Academy of Arts and 
Sciences never ceased to regret. What did it do.' 
It procured, upon the excitement of the moment, 
a decision of the Academy of Arts and Sciences 
of France, awarding to Dr. Jackson twenty-five 
hundred francs, being one of the Monthyon 
prizes of that institution, and he received the 
money. But when the good Dr. Warren, and 
Dr. Hay ward, and Dr. Bigelow.and others of the 
Massachusetts general hospital, who knew all 
about it, placed this persecuted man. Dr. Morton, 
before the world, and established his claim, what 
did the Academy of Arts and Sciences do ? We 
know it is the nature of that institution never to 
take back anything which it does. It wili not 
acknowledge fallibility; but it went to the extent 
to which it could go. It awarded to Dr. Morton 
another prize of the Monthyon foundation, of 
twenty-five hundred francs — as what.' Just for 
-what Pulton was, just for what Jenner, the dis- 
coverer of vaccination, was, and for what all other 
men are, who come before the world making dis- 
coveries. The Academy of Arts and Sciences 
gave him this Monthyon prize for being the man 
•who had discovered, and made beneficial to the 
world, the use of sulphuric ether as an anajsthetic 

Notwithstanding that Dr. Morton had to fight 
the medical and literary magazines of the country 
—notwithstanding he had to fight Dr. Jackson, 
and almost everybody else— for nearly all the sur- 
geons in the country, except those in the Massa- 
chusetts general ho.ipital, frowned upon him— 
notwithstanding all this reduced him to poverty; 
yet.'hke a noble man, as he is, lie declined to re- 
ceive the two thousand five hundred francs in 
money. Still, so anxious was the Academy of 
Arts and Sciences to place in his hands evidences 
of their exalted recognition of his rights, thatthey 
directed a certain portion of the fund to be paid in 
the shape of their largest gold medal. That did 
not exhaust the entire fund, and the friends of 

Dr. Morton in France took the balance of it and 
used it in inclosing the medal in a beautiful gold 
frame, so that it altogether now presents the beau- 
tiful thing which I hold in my hand, [exhibiting 
it to the Senate.] Dr. Morton would not receive 
the money, but he received that which he could 
treasure in his heart, and could look upon as an 
evidence of the appreciation of his exertions by 
this noble Academy of Arts am! Sciences of Paris. 
It is a noble appreciation of liim who gave this 
irivaluablediscovery to the world. Itshows whom 
they considered as the real discoverer. 

When you come to look at the testimony oa 
which the claim of Dr. Jaclison is based; when you 
come to inquire really what it is, it would seem 
most astounding thatany one in the world should 
come forward with such a claim. What was it.' 
At he claimed nothing more than that he had 
told Dr. Morton that ether could be taken safely into 
the lungs. Anybody in the world could have told 
him that. This substance had been known since 
the thirteenth century. Its formation was accu- 
rately described by Valerius Cordus, in the six- 
teenth century. Probenius first designated it ether, 
and published an account of it in the philosophical 
transactions in 1730. Its use as a medical agent, 
first alluded to by Valerius Cnrdus, and mentioned 
by Hoffman, Cullen, Alston, Lewis, and Monroe, 
and other writers of the last century, has long been 
familiarly known. The history of its use by in- 
halation, commenced with the pamphlet published 
in 1795, by Richard Pearson; gnd several commu- 
nications from the same Dr. Pearson are to be 
found in the work of Dr. Beddoes on Factitious 
Airs, published at Bristol, England, in 1796. The 
same work contains a letter from one of Dr. Thorn- 
ton's patients, giving an account of his use of 
ether, by Dr. Thornton's advice, in a case of pec- 
tonal catarrh. He says, "it gave almost imme- 
diate relief both to the oppression ajirf pain in the 
chest." On the second trial, he inhaled two spoon- 
fuls, with " immediate relief, as before, and I very 
soon after/tH asleep." In 1815, Nysten, in the 
Directory of Medical Sciences, speaks of the in- 
halation of ether as familiarly known for miligaling 
pains in colic. For the last fifty years, most ther- 
apeutic authors mention its by inhalation in 
asthma, &c., as Duncan, Murray, Brande, Chris- 
tison, Pereira, Thompson, Barbier, Wendt, Vogt, 
Sundelin, &c. Eff'ects analogous to intoxi catio n, 
when ether is inhaled, are stated by Amerid§kiu- 
thors, as Godman, (1822,) Mitchell, (183a|R-o- 
fes.sor Samuel Jackson, (1833,) Wood & Wche 
(1834,) Miller, (1846, and early in that year.) 

Dr. John C. Warren, in his work on Etheriza- 
tion, says: i 

" The general properties of ether have been known for 
inore than a century, and theelTeet of ita inhalation, in pro- 
ducing exhilaration atiri iiisensibilitv, hn.s been understood 
I t many ypars, not only bv the scientific, but by youne men 
in CO Icgfls and schools, ami in the siiop of Ibr apothecary. 
WHO have frequently employed it for those purposes," 

From the days of Hippocrates down, there has 

been an effort to obtain an ann;sihetic agent 

something to lull the patient in surgical operations. 
L>ut until Dr. Morton, with what physicians termed 
a daring spirit, came forward and demonstrated it 
to the world, the right agent had never been found, 
t here is among the testimony, the certificate of 
the person on whom theairent was first employed 
Dr. Morton first extracted teeih in this way He 
then went to Dr. Warren, and got him to consent 
to perforin a surgical operation upon a imtient, 
rendered insensible by this agent, which he did 


perform on the IGth of October, 1846. Dr. Mor- 
ton repeiUed hia experiments in surg;ical opera- 
tions at the hospital, on the ITih-of October, and 

' continually from that day down to the 2d of Jan- 
uary, 1347, when Dr. .Tackson first made known 

I that he ever had any claim. 

j The trustees of the general hospital of Mas.«a- 
'chusetts, as a testimonial of the services of Dr. 
Morton, raised a fund of $1,000; but knowing his 
1 sensitiveness on the subject, and in order to make 
I the compliment more acceptable to him, that there 
j might remain something connected with it as an 
; cndurine;monumentof theirg;ratitude,they inclosed 
the amount in a silver casket, containing an en- 
I graving manifesting their fourth decision, as you 

may say, in his favor, 
i Again, aa another testimonial, I may state that 
the siibject was brought up in the Thirtieth Con- 
; gress, before a select committee of the House of 
Representatives, and with all the testimony before 
them, they decided that Dr. Morton was the dis- 
coverer. Here, sigain, in this Congress, after an- 
other review of all the testimony. Dr. Morton 
I appearing before them in person, and Dr. Jack- 
I son, both in person and by counsel, a select com- 
mittee of the House of Representatives has decided 
Dr. Morton to be the discoverer. 

All that there is now to answeragainst his claim, 
is the remonstrance to which the Senator from 
J Maine has alluded; and what is that remonstrance? 
> It is a remonstrance said to be signed by one 
hundred and forty-four physicians. The register 
of physicians of Massachusetts, shows that there 
are about fifteen hundred in that State. Not one 
of these remonstrators was in the general hospital 
of Massachusetts at the time this discovery was 
brought out; but on the contrary, a great many of 
them are dentists, who were personal enemies and 
personal rivals of Dr. Morton, and they are to this 
day his personal rivals. At the time he was risk- 
ing his life to bring out this discovery, they were 
denouncing him, and endeavoring to put him down. 
They were getting up prosecutions against him, to 
drive him, if possible, from respectable society. 
Yet these are the men who come forward and re- 
monstrate! But, is it true, as the remonstrance 
states, that it is from " Boston and its vicinity?" 
I have here the State record of Massachusetts, and 
I find that the names on that remonstrance are 
Bcat^Ked all over the State. There are three hun- 
drei^Redical men in Boston alone, and here are 
one^Widred and forty-four remonstrants from the 
whole State of Massachusetts, and these are Dr. 
Morton's rivals — men who had first given him 
notes, and then refused to pay them, and became 
his enemies, and tried to make out that he had 
made no discovery! The remonstrance is dated 
in February last, and they have been ransacking 
the State of Massachusetts from that time to this, 
to get up remonstrators against Dr. Morton, and 
they have succeeded in getting one hundred and 
forty-four out of fifteen hundred in that State. 

We have two reports of the hospital of Maa- 
Bachusetts; we have the prize awarded by the 
Academy of Arts and Sciences of Paris; we have 
the award of a casket and $1,000 by the trustees of 
the Massachusetts hospital; we have the reports 
of two select committees of the House of Repre- 
sentatives; we have the concurrent voice of two 
committees — the Committee on Military Affairs 
and the Committeeon Naval Affairs — of this body; 
and there is nothing to answer it but this simple i 
remonstrance of which we have heard to-day. | 

We have nothing in an authentic shape to contro- 
vert all these testimonials. Most of these remon- 
strants do not state that they know anything about 
the facts, but simfily give their "belief" Why 
not go to Dr. Warren, Dr. Hayward, or Dr. 
Bigelow ? Why not go to the various men who- 
cut off legs and arms, and extirpated tumors, and 
performed the most dreadful surgical operations 
with the aid of this ageht, when Dr, Morton was 
making his first experiments? Why did not Dr. 
Jackson do that? Why did he not bring the names 
of some surgeons to certify that he discovered this? 
He could not do it. 

These awards to Dr. Morton, the concurrent 
testimony of all these individuals, speak a voice 
in America and Europe, and now it is even heard 
in Asia. But why do we get up a controversy 
here about the real discoverer of this remedial 
agent? I have in my possession the original pat- 
ent, in which it is expressly recited that Dr. Jack- 
son has assigned all his interest in the matter. 
How did he get any interest? It was through the 
mistake.of the lawyer who was employed in regard 
to obtaining a patent. Dr. Jackson went to him, 
and finding him employed in endeavoring to obtain 
a patent, observed that he had something to do 
with that matter. The lawyer asked him what 
he had to do with it. " Why, I told Dr. Morton 
that ether could be administered with safety." 
Everybody knew that before. But did he know 
that pain could be destroyed under its administra- 
tion? No, sir. He does not attempt to prove it. 
But let anybody read the review by both select 
committees of the House of Representatives, of 
the testimony by which he undertakes to prove it; 
and if they could ever thereafter believe his wit- 
nesses, it is more than I could do. There is not 
one particle of testimony given, to prove that Dr. 
Jackson ever said or ever supposed that ether could 
be so administered as to annihilate pain. All that 
Dr. Morton wanted to know, in order to be sure, 
was, that he was not running the risk of murder. 
Dr. Jackson said it could be administered with 
safety. He told the patent lawyer that he had 
something to do with it — that he had given this 
information to Dr. Morton; and then that lawyer, 
Mr. Eddy, through a mistake, not knowing the 
facts, proposed that Dr. .Tackson should have some 
remuneration. What do you think Dr. .Tackson 
was content with, in the first instance? Did he 
claim any part of this discovery? 

Mr. Eddy thought that Dr. Morton ought to 
make some credit, or do something; and all Dr. 
Jackson then asked was $500 for medical advice; 
and, according to his own language, he went home 
and charged Dr. Morton upon his books ■j.'iOO for 
medical advice; and Dr. Alorton executed a bond 
to pay Dr. Jackson $500, provided ten per cent, 
upon the patent would make that sum. He sub- 
sequently claimed ten per cent, upon the patent; 
and then claimed twenty-five per cent.; and ulti- 
mately claimed that he was the real discoverer of 
the whole. But, however that may be, whatever 
straits Dr. Morton may have been in, 1 say, 
here is the patent in the name of Dr. Morton, and 
in it Dr. Jackson svirrenders any title he could by 
possibility have. But, whatever Dr. Jackson may 
be able to show hereafter that he is entitled to, I 
shall be willing to grant to liim. 

I must make this further remark: Dr. IVTorton 
has been purs\ied in every step he has taken in 
this matter. It is in evidence before the committee 
of the House of Representatives, and they havs 


reported the fact, that there were raised in England 
at one time by subscription 4'10,000, for the dis- 
coverer of the aiitoathetic properties of ether, and 
the payment of it to Dr. Morton was prevented 
by the agitation raised by Dr. Jackson. Dr. Mor- 
ton has hem pursued by people hunting; on liis 
track. They are siill following him. Here they 
are, now, pursuing: him through the mouth of the 
Senator from Connecticut. I3ut I do not blame 
liim for making any representations he may see 
proper in regard to Dr. Wells; but I say that the 
original claim of Dr. Wells is altogether refuted 
by his own evidence, and by his own advice to 
Dr. Morton. 

Then, taking all these public monuments, as you 
may call them, as evidence of the right of Dr. 
Morton, running from 1846 to 1852, how can it 
be possibly said that we are taking a snap judg- 
ment on anybody ? It cannot be truly said. This 
subject has been long considered, and the judg- 
ment of the world has been in favor of Dr. Mor- 
ton 's rights. But here is the patent, and here he 
is the assignee of any rights that Dr. Jackson 
may have had. 

A proposition now comes up from the Commit- 
tee on Military Affairs to procure a surrender of 
that patent; and for what reason is that opposed.' 
"Why, that by paying this, we may do something 
■wrong to some other individual. Sir, the patent 
has been granted at the Patent Office. That is the 
tribunal established by the Constitution and the 
laws to decide to whom a patent is due. That 
institution did decide the patent to be due to Dr. 
Morton, and it was issued to him, and any rights 
which Dr. Jackson had in it are recited in the 
patent as being assigned to Dr. Morton. Then 
ne (Dr. Jackson) ckn have no claims. But it is 
not pretended that Dr. Jackson or Dr. Wells have 
got a patent. It is known that they did not get 
any. Dr. Morton has the patent, and this appro- 
priation is proposed for the purpose of obtaining 
the surrender of that patent. 

Mr. M ALLORY. I am pleased to have this 
opportunity to manifest, by a vote upon this prop- 
osition, my appreciation of the importance of the 
subject to which it refers; and, sir, if no voice in 
its behalf had been hitherto raised, if no advocate 
had ever before appeared to press the claims of 
him whose successful devotion, whose self-sacri- 
ficing labors have secured for him throughout the 
earth this heaven-born gift — I would have consid- 
ered it one of the high privileges of the place I oc- 
cupy to stand forth in that attitude. But, sir, 
such fortunately is not its position; for the earnest 
appeals of men, women, and children, the united 
and consistent testimony of the learned and the 
unlettered throughout this broad land, have raised 
up lor it here unwavering friends. 

This amendment, Mr. President, proposes to 
pay to the discoverer of the anaesthetic properties 
of sulphuric ether, inhaled, and of their extraor- 
dinary advantages to medicine and surgery, 
$100,000, upon the condition that he shall relin- 
quish it to the free enjoyment of mankind, and 
abandon all the rights of a discoverer and patentee. 
If the question be asked, What is the character of 
the service rendered, what is the utility of the 
discovery.'— the response comes from thousands 
of our own fellow-citizens, in every walk of life, 
whom gratitude has made eloquent. It comes 
from the lowly couch of the poor-house patient, 
and from the aristocratic mansion of the million- 
aire—from feeble woman in the agonies entailed 

upon her first disobedience, and from the stern, 
strong man writhing in pain. "It comes from your 
battle-fields, froiw your military, naval, and civil 
hospitals, from your gallant soldiers and sailors 
tortured by wounds and amputations, it comes 
to you from the practitioner in every department 
of medicine, and with our consent the surgeons of 
the Old and the New World hail it as the great 
discovery of the age. Its claims have been ex- 
amined by select committees of Congress, aided 
by able counsel, with an industry and accuracy 
equally honorable to them and to the subject. The 
trustees of the Massachusetts general hospital 
presented the discoverer with ^1,000 and an ap- 
propriate letter. The chiefs of our own Depart- 
ments, our Surgeon General, and the head of our 
Naval Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, give it 
their unqualified approval, and the Academy of 
Sciences of Paris, after a thorough investigation of 
its character, conferred upon its discoverer the 
" Monthyon golden medal" as an extraordinary 
mark of its approbation. 

Such are a few of the thousand evidences of the 
various characters from Europe and America ia 
its favor. And well, sir, does it merit this praise. 
Hitherto the surgeon's skill, though advancing 
with gigantic strides, has been circumscribed and 
controlled by the power of endurance of his pa- 
tient; and many operations which comparativs 
anatomy justifies and demands for the salvation 
of life, have been rendered impracticable by their 
tortures upon an enfeebled or agonized frame, or 
by their violent shock to the whole nervous sys- 
tem; and thousands have annually perished whom 
this discovery might have saved. Men of un- 
doubted courage, wounded at last, after facing 
death in many forms, shrunk with undefined ter- 
ror from the prospect which the cold-blooded tor- 
ture of the surgeon's knife holds before theii'eyes; 
and timid woman, sinking beneath disease, not 
unfrequently prefers the pains of death to the un- 
told horrors of the operator's table. But all this 
is now passed. The knife has lost its terrors, the 
tourniquet and saw are regarded without a shud- 
der, and the appearance of the surgeon tty the 
pallet of the untimely sufferer is hailed with joy, 
for he not only banishes pain, but substitutes for 
an anguished frame the happy dreams of a joyous 
spirit. In the language of the venerable and em- 
inent Dr. Warren — 

"A new era lias opened to the operating sur^^^^Ks 
visitations on the most delicate* parts are ferl^^^^Kt 

only without the agonizini? screams he lias been aH^HI^d 
to hoar, but sometimes with a state of perfect insen "(ity, 
and occasionally even with the expression of pleasure on 
the pan of the patient. Who could have imapined that 
drawing the knife over the delicate skin of the tace ini^ht 
produce a sensation of iimnixed delighti" — thiU the aiming 
and twisting ofinstruments in the most sensitive parts might 
be accompanied by a beautiful dream.' — that the contorting 
of anchylosed joints should coexist with a celestial vision ? 
If Ambrose Par(!,and I.ouis, and Dcssault, and Chesselden, 
and Hunter, and_ Cooper, could see what our eyes daily 
witness, how wo'uld tliey long to come among us, and per- 
form their exploits once more ! And with what fresh vigor 
docs the living surgeon, who is ready to resign the scalpel 
grasp it, and wish again to go through his career under netr 
auspices !" 

If I felt justified, Mr. President, in view of the 
pressing legislation yet before us, I would embrace 
this occasion to give tjje conclusive testimony of 
the principal practitioners of Europe and America 
in its behalf; but I do not feel authorized to con- 
sume a moment beyond a mere reference to them. 
In the eloquent testimony of Holmes 

" The knifo is searching for disease— tlie pulleys are drag^ 



ging bark disloeaUMl limhs — naltirc liersolT in working out 
the primal cursn, wliioli dooiiuul tlie tcndereHt ol' iinr crea- 
tures 10 the sliarpe,--! ot' lier trials ; liul the (iuree exlrcjiiiiy 
of BUfleritii! has been stepped in tlin waters of ("orKi'tfuliiess, 
and the deepest furrow in the knotted brow of agony haa 
been smoothed forever." 

And now, Mr. President, if it be difRcult to es- 
tablish a standard by which merit generally is to 
be rewarded, how utterly impos.sible must it be to 
determine its proper bounds in a case like the pres- 
ent, in which an humble individual is the donor, 
and the whole human family the recipient. His 
most enduring and valuable reward will be in the 
undying gratitude of a posterity whose lot is suf- 
fering and pain, and a supreme happiness flowing 
from gratitude to God for being made the medium 
of such a boon to his creatures. But, sir, let us 
fulfill owr duty. J^'e cannot pay Dr. Morion. His 
services are beyond price; but we can place his 
future life beyond the reach of poverty, and in 
this manner do justice to ourselves; for, Mr. Pres- 
ident, to the living searchers after truth, as well as 
to those children of genius who are yet to struggle 
in her paths, and in the eyesof all honorablemen, 
iSie course of the American Senate upon this ques- 
tion will be a beacon of warning or of hope. 

I believe not the worn-out apophthegm, that Re- 
publics are ungrateful. Ingratitude is the crime of i 

men, not of political organization— and the sons 
of Adam possess in common the same virtues artd 
vices. But yet, Bir, there is much upon history's 
page to justify the proposition, even within our 
own short political existence. Tlie graves of our 
revolutionary sages are unknown to their free and 
happy descendants. No Old Mortality renew* 
their fleeting letters; and the monument of its 
father and hero struggles lingeriiigly upwards^ 
stone by stone, in spite of their seeming indilTer- 

Fulton's merits were disregarded; and he was 
suffered to dieowingmore dollars than would have 
covered him in his grave. In pleasing contrast to 
this, sir, is the grant of the British Parliament ef 
f 15(),(I00 to Dr. .Tenner for his discovery of vaccin- 
ation; and its liberal reward of discoverers in va- 
rious walks of science. I am persuaded that the 
objection based upon a constitutional prohibition, 
made by the honorable Senator from New York, 
is not seriously urged; and certainly upon one of 
the alternatives suggested by him, we can reward 
this applicant. I never saw him till within a day, 
or two, and I know personally nothing of him, 
but entertain no doubt of the justice of his claim, 
and hope the amendment will pass. 



Decision of the Naval Committee of the House of Representatives 92 

Decision of the Military Committee of the Senate 100 

Decision of the Naval Committee of the Senatc^v. 100 

Decision of the French Academy T7 

»n of the Select Committee of the Thirty-Second Congress on Dr. Morton's memorial. 78 
i-,^Iedal....t 77 
of Hon. S. Borland 121 

Remarks of tlon. T. Smith 122 

Remarks of Hon. W. M. Gwin 122 

Remarks of Hon. J. Shields 123 

Remarks of Hon. J. P. Hale 123 

Remarks of Hon. S. A. Douglas 123 

Remarks of Hon. I. P. Walker.. 124 

Remarks of Hon. S. R. Mallory 127